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Sundried Tomato and Olive Tapenade with (or without) Sausage

September 2, 2015

Sundried Tomato and Olive Tapenade with (or without) Sausage

This dish is a LOT easier than it sounds!
I originally developed this recipe in 2007. That’s the only other place you would have found it before now, except my kitchen. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Sundried Tomato and Olive Tapenade with Sausage

Preparation time: 30-45 minutes (dependant on store bought/homemade ingredients)
Skill level: very easy
Serves: 4-6

Tapenade (pronounced ta-pen-AAD) is a term used for an olive based condiment as a paste, in flavored butter or dip. Traditionally, it was made with black olives, capers and anchovies, however, these days you’ll find many types and ingredients in what is classified as tapenade. We don’t do anchovies in this house due to a food allergy.


  • 2 cups penne pasta (or other medium size pasta. Smaller pasta tends to “get lost” in stronger tasting ingredients); cook pasta to box directions.
  • 2 Tbl olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 12-16 ounces kielbasa, sliced thin diagonally
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced thin (sundried tomatoes are found in a jar, generally by the canned vegetables or pasta sauces. If using sundried tomatoes that are not packed in olive oil, use 1 more tablespoon olive oil if tomatoes are not in olive oil) Additional note – I have also used fresh cherry tomatoes, halved, for this dish before.
  • 4-5 Tbl olive bruschetta topping (Delallo is our favorite) –OR- tapenade topping (recipe follows)
  • ½ tsp onion powder –OR- ¼ – ½ cup onion slices
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1-2 Tbl white cooking wine (regular white or red wine can be used as well)


Cook pasta to manufacturer’s directions. Drain and rinse.

In large skillet add olive oil, kielbasa slices, sundried tomatoes, brushcetta (or tapenade ingredients found below), onion powder (or onions), black pepper and oregano flakes. Mix together and cook over medium heat until kielbasa pieces start to brown, stirring frequently.
Add pasta to skillet and stir ingredients together. Add cooking wine and stir.
Serve hot.

Tapenade Ingredients:

(The amount is specific for this dish. Add more or less ingredients for other dishes).

  • 15-20 green olives
  • 10-15 black olives
  • 2-3 slices of red pepper, pressed with spoon to soften,
  • 2 Tbl capers (found in the canned vegetable or condiments aisle)
  • 1-2 tsp vinegar
  • pinch of salt


Either chop or ‘mush’ ingredients and stir together before adding to the above recipe. (Start out with the smaller portions given and add according to taste. My family likes the stronger, more olive taste.)

This dish lends itself well to using chicken or other sausages instead of kielbasa. Chicken gives it a milder flavor. I also like it without any meat but my guys prefer meat in it.


copyright © 2015 cathy rueter

Mango Salsa

August 25, 2015

Mango Salsa

From the Kitchen of Cathy Rueter at Up in the Attic ‎

*Note: Another no cook dish! This one is perfect with chicken, cracker chips, salad, scooper chips, fish…any dish in which you need a fresh topping or scooping side. I love this with gluten free sea salt crackers from Aldi’s.

I’m currently on a black bean kick, so I’d probably like this over a dish of warmed homemade black beans. And since I am going to share my friends recipe for Homemade Black Beans next week, guess what I’m going to try them with!

Mango Salsa

Serves: 2

Necessary items: medium size bowl

Time: Prep time 20-30 minutes, wait time approximately 30 minutes, cook time – zero!



1 ½ cups diced mango

½ cup diced, fresh pineapple

¾ cup diced tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, quartered)

½ cup diced orange bell pepper

½ cup diced cucumber

⅛ cup green onions, sliced thin (3-4 Tbl of chives would work well in place of green onions)

⅛ tsp pepper or to taste

½ tsp salt or to taste



Dice all fruit and vegetable ingredients.

Drain excess juice.

Put all fruit and vegetable ingredients in bowl with salt and pepper and thoroughly stir.

Cover bowl and let sit for approximately 30 minutes (if longer than 30 minutes before serving, store in refrigerator and remove to warm for 30 minutes before serving), thoroughly stir again.


Serve over chicken, fish, or rice. Use for salsa dip with crackers, chips, etc.






From the kitchen of Up in the Attic with Cathy Rueter © 2015



Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing

August 11, 2015

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Originally from the Kitchen of Kaitlin M at The Garden Grazer

*Note: I originally found this recipe on the internet a few weeks ago. We liked it so well that I did something I have never done before…I wrote to Kaitlin and asked if I could share her recipe on Up in the Attic. She graciously agreed!

Any changes are noted in parenthesis. Photos – whether good or bad – are my doing. I have linked to the original recipe at the end – you might want to go check out this and a BUNCH more yummy sounding recipes over on Kaitlin’s site.

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing

No cooking! Just chopping, dicing and stirring – how much easier and fresher can you get than that on a hot August day?

Necessary items – large salad bowl, small dressing bowl, possibly food processor or blender

Time: 30 minutes prep (or less)

Ingredients for Chopped Salad:

Large head of romaine lettuce, rinsed

15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 large orange bell pepper (I used julienned mini red peppers left from dinner the day before instead)

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 cups corn (Kaitlin uses frozen, thawed. I used a 15.5 oz. can of whole kernel corn)

5 green onions (I used a good sized clump of chives from my garden)

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing (recipe below) or other dressing of choice



Finely chop romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green onions.

Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl, along with the black beans and corn. Mix to combine.

Toss with desired dressing

(Changes: we like different dressings so we drizzle whichever one we like over it once it reaches our plates, instead of tossing it with one dressing. I already told you about the differences in the green onions and orange bell pepper. We also have a family member that does not like tomatoes so I leave them in larger pieces so they can be removed.)


Ingredients for Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing:

1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped

(I used 2 oz. of Garden Gourmet’s Stir-in paste cilantro – from a tube)

½ avocado or ½ cup plain vegan yogurt or Greek yogurt

2 Tbls fresh lime juice – about ½ a lime

1-2 garlic cloves (I used 1-1 ½ tsp chopped garlic in water – from a jar I always have on hand)

¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ tsp white vinegar

1/8 tsp salt (I added just a touch more)

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing. Adapted with permission from The Garden Grazer.  Photo: Cathy Rueter ©2015

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing. Adapted with permission from The Garden Grazer.
Photo: Cathy Rueter ©2015


Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. (Because I used the cilantro paste, I just used the smaller bowl and stirred VERY well). Toss with salad.

*Note: Five reasons why I make this dressing on the side.
1) We have two people severely allergic to avocados in our family so I used regular, plain yogurt instead of the avocado. I usually have Greek yogurt on hand but didn’t last night so I used plain. This is a thick, stir-in dressing normally so the thinner, regular yogurt made it easier to drizzle.

2) One of my son’s has an aversion to cilantro. He’s usually not a real picky eater but I thought he was making it up. Then I did some research on it. Turns out there are some people who get a strong, unpleasant metallic taste from cilantro. Guess what? That’s what he’s been telling me all along, “tastes like I’m chewing on a piece of metal.” Guess mom should have listened better.

3) The first time I made this recipe my crew was so hungry, and I knew I was only making the dressing for me, that I didn’t make it. I used ranch dressing, then drizzled lime juice and sprinkled fine ground sea salt over it all. Ooh it was good (but then again, I’m a lime/salt fanatic).

4) My husband likes hot sauce….he adds it to his dressing of choice for this salad. Umm, no thanks!

5) If given a choice, one of my sons doesn’t like dressing of any kind on his salads.

Making it for on the side allows all of us to choose how to dress this delicious, summer fresh salad.




Original recipe from The Garden Grazer




Jutta’s German Pasta Salad

August 4, 2015

A long time favorite in our household, this pasta salad recipe was originally given to me from our German friend Jutta H. (pronounced You-tuh). She introduced this summer salad to me when our kids (now in their 20’s) were little, during one of our many family dinners together when we were both young moms, living far away from our extended families. It has become an easy, and well liked, take-along dish for parties, cookouts and picnics. I have adapted it very little over the years except to add different veggies to it as I have on hand.


Jutta’s German Pasta Salad

serves 6-8 (main dish) or 10-12 as a side

Prep time: 30 minutes

Minimum cooling time: 30 minutes



1 – 12 ounce box tri-color rotini pasta, cooked to al dente (cooked to be still firm when bitten)
1 cup cherry tomoatoes, cut in halves
1 cup fresh mushrooms, broken in small pieces
1 can black olives, cut in halves
2 cans chicken (or 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed)
1 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbl vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp dry mustard (or 1 Tbl bottled mustard and reduce vinegar by 1/2-1 tsp)
Cook pasta per manufacturer’s directions to al dente (approximately 7-8 minutes in large pot of boiling water). Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Add all SALAD ingredients.
In cup or dressing cruet, add dressing ingredients and stir or shake well. Pour over pasta/veggies and mix well.
Cool salad for AT LEAST 3o minutes.
Mix, serve and enjoy!
This salad lends itself well to being made the day before but you may want to reserve a little of the dressing to add fresh when serving and in order to ‘unstick’ any pasta when serving the next day (or add a small amount of olive oil and stir).
**Note: This salad can be made gluten free by using a gluten free pasta but make sure it is one that stays together when cooked. You do NOT want mushy pasta with this salad – believe me.
Other great add-ins to this salad are any of the following veggies (you may have to add further dressing if you go crazy with the veggies): broccoli florets, carrot shavings or julienne’s, diced seedless cucumber, diced colored sweet peppers, diced, sweet Vidalia onion (but remove the onion flakes from the dressing), or celery slices. I personally like artichoke hearts diced up in this salad as well.
© 2015 Cathy Rueter – Up in the Attic With Cathy Rueter

Pink chicken Chili

July 28, 2015

Pink Chicken Chili

By Cathy Rueter

Necessary items – crockpot and large fry pan

Time: 30 minutes prep

Crockpot: low setting, 6-8 hours

Ingredients given for half and full crockpots

*Note: although I originally created this dish with ground chicken, here in my area that meat is hard to find and it is rather expensive. Recently I experimented with half ground chicken and half ground pork. This combination tastes just as delicious and is less expensive – BONUS!

(Half crockpot full – 4-6 servings)

Tbl olive oil

2 lbs ground chicken (less expensive – 1 lb ground chicken and 1 lb ground pork)

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp minced garlic

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 can light Red Kidney beans, drained

1 can Northern beans, drained

16 ounces mild salsa (our favorite – Casa Mamita Chunky Salsa from Aldi)

14 ounces water

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (Knorr brand loose is our favorite)

¼ – ½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for topping/stirring


(Full Crockpot – 6-8 servings)

1-2 Tbl olive oil

2 lbs ground chicken -AND-

2 lbs ground pork

1 ¾ tsp salt

4 cloves garlic or 2 tsp minced garlic

2 medium onions (or 1 large), chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp plus a small dash more, ground cayenne pepper

2 cans light Red Kidney beans, drained

2 cans Northern beans, drained

24 ounce jar mild salsa (our favorite – Casa Mamita Chunky Salsa from Aldi)

28 ounces water

4 teaspoons chicken bouillon (Knorr brand loose is our favorite)

½-1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for topping/stirring


**Note: Different ingredient amounts but same cooking directions whether half crockpot or full crockpot.

Brown ground chicken (or ground chicken and ground pork) in fry pan, break into smaller crumbles. Drain grease.

Heat water until warm (microwave or can use warm water from tap as well). Add chicken bouillon to water and stir.

Add meat, chicken bouillon water, and all ingredients EXCEPT sour cream/yogurt to crockpot and stir. (Make sure to drain beans prior to adding or you will have a soupy mess).

Cook in crockpot on low 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Ladle chili into bowls and top with large tablespoons of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt. Stir in – this is what turns the chili pink(ish)!


Game Day Taco Bean Dip

July 1, 2015

Not only is this a fast and delicious meal – on game day or any day – it’s inexpensive too! BONUS!!!

Game Day Taco Bean Dip

from the kitchen of Cathy Rueter

Microwave cooking

Serves 4-6

Prep time: approx. 10 minutes. Cook time: less than 10 minutes.

Cooking necessities: Large microwavable bowl


Ingredients for microwave mix:

1 lb ground beef, cooked and any grease drained

1 packet favorite taco seasoning

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shreds

1 can (10 oz.) diced tomato and green chili, drained

1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, drained

1/2 cup water

Other ingredients (do NOT add these to the microwave mix):

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 bag of tortilla strip chips (our favorite is the 24 oz. size Pueblo Lindo Restaurant Tortilla Strips Party Size bag from Aldi’s – make 2-3 batches of the dip for a whole bag)



Mix all the microwave mix ingredients together. (Reserve ‘other’ ingredients for end result.)

Microwave mix on high for three (3) minutes.

Stir thoroughly.

Microwave on high for two (2) to three (3) minutes more. Stir. Carefully remove from microwave – bowl will likely be very hot!

Scoop mix onto serving plates and top with heaping tablespoonful of Greek yogurt. Place large handful of tortilla strip chips on plate and serve.

Can be served with lettuce shreds, fresh diced tomatoes, diced onion, black olives, etc.

Serve and enjoy!


Overstuffed Peppers

June 19, 2015

Overstuffed Peppers

from the kitchen of Cathy Rueter

Oven: 350°

Serves 4-6 (possible left-overs – even better the next day)

Prep time: approx. 10 minutes. Cook time: approx. 3o minutes.

Cooking necessities: Large stove top pan, 9×5 glass baking pan (or equivalent), tin foil

Note: You don’t actually ‘stuff’ these peppers. Nearly all the ingredients are added together, covering a layer of sliced peppers, then baked.

Layering ingredients:

  • 3 Sweet Peppers – (red, yellow and orange, preferably), seeded and cut in strips
  • 1 cup mozzerella (topping) plus more below

Mixture ingredients:

  • 1 (1 lb.) roll of sausage (we get ours from Aldi® – it has a nice, not too spicy flavor), cooked
  • 1 (1 lb.) roll of burger, the lower the fat content the better, preferably 75/25 ratio, cooked
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa or Jasmine rice (or combination – quinoa and Jasmine is our fav)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 c cup mozzarella, for mix

Spray bottom of 9×5 glass baking dish. Layer pepper strips. Reserve mozzarella topping.

Cook rice (or rice/quinoa mix) per manufacturer directions. Set aside.

Brown burger and sausage in large pan on stove (you will need the size later). Drain grease.

In same large pan, mix burger, sausage and rice (mix) together with rest of mixture ingredients, making sure not to use the layering peppers strips and mozzarella cheese topping.

On stove top, cook mixture on medium heat until onions and celery start to cook through (about 8-10 minutes). Stir occasionally.

Remove from stove and layer mixture OVER peppers in baking pan. (Hence the name, Over Stuffed Peppers.) Layer mozzarella cheese topping on top. Cover with tin foil.

Bake in 350° oven for 20 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until bubbly. If cheese topping is not yet browned, bake another 5 minutes at 400°.

Carefully remove from oven. Let sit five minutes.

Serve and enjoy!



Guest Kitchen

June 19, 2015

I can’t think of many things more enjoyable than spending time with family and friends, sharing recipes, food and each other’s company. Enjoy these recipes from Guest Kitchen!

The first Guest Kitchen recipe is here! Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing adapted from the kitchen of The Garden Grazer. Check it out and get the link to the original here:


The Guest Kitchen


From My Kitchen

June 19, 2015

You’ll find some strange names among the recipes coming From My Kitchen but the food tastes good and isn’t hard to cook. I don’t have time for hard to cook and neither do you!



First recipe:

Overstuffed Peppers