One of the more challenging aspects of being a military family is moving away from your family. You instantly lose the people who you can rely upon to take you to the airport, stay with your kids when you take one of them to the hospital or come to graduations.
We have been lucky to make some friends who have stepped in when we needed help. Recently, one of my friends offered to take us to the airport and pick us up nine days later.
My favorite way to thank someone for kindness is with a dinner. I have recurrent fantasies about a dinner fairy having everything ready when I come home from work. I enjoy cooking, but after a long week it is sometimes one more thing on the list.
However, what do you cook for a family who has previously picked all the mushrooms out of the world's best chicken a la king recipe?
Start with dessert.
I have been enoying Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's Baked. They says that their preanut butter crispy bars are the most popular refrigerated bar that they make. I followed the recipe except I used semisweet chocolate for the icing. I am wary that people who dislike mushroom may dislike dark chocolate.
Smitten kitchen gives an amazing write up and copy of the recipe http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/10/peanut-butter-crispy-bars/
On to the dinner. We have a favorite pasta salad from Bon Appetit, Aug 2000. We have been making it for years.
* 6 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon drained capers
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 pound fusilli pasta
* 12 ounces tomatoes, coarsely chopped
* 8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
* 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
* 1/2 cup minced pitted oil-cured black olives
Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Set dressing aside.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Add dressing to hot pasta; toss to coat. Cool, stirring occasionally. Add chopped fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, Parmesan and olives; toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
Add some oven baked chicken fingers and dinner is complete.