Super Easy Pasta Salad

During the summer, who wants to turn on the oven? No one. No one wants to turn on the oven. So, let me share one of my favorite summer time recipes.

IMG_1829

This summer salad is so simple and is super quick to throw together. Plus, the only thing that needs to be cooked is the pasta.

1) Cook your pasta (cook until just al dente). You can use any type of pasta that you have on hand.

2) Cut up veggies. Any veggies. I had green pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and radishes. I also had some leftover grilled zucchini and corn from earlier in the week (this salad is a great way to use up leftovers, too). We’ve had lots of veggies on hand lately thanks to our Imperfect Produce deliveries! Try to be sure that everything is close to the same size.

3). Add the cooked pasta and your veggies into a large bowl.

4). If you want, you can add a protein. Shredded chicken? Tuna? Yum.

5). Drizzle with olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper.

6). Stir. Stir. Stir. Be sure that everything is lightly coated.

7). Now drizzle Italian dressing. Use whatever brand Italian dressing that you like.

8). Stir. Stir. Stir.

9). Taste. Does it need more salt? More pepper? How is the dressing? Do you need more?

And that’s it! Super easy. Super tasty. And the kids love it! You can even include them in the preparation of the salad. They can do the stirring. Or, they can practice cutting some of the veggies.

Advertisements

Breakfast Is an Anytime Food

I love breakfast foods – especially the savory types. And, I love breakfast foods anytime of the day but I actually like them more for lunch or dinner.

One of my all-time favorite breakfast anytime foods is biscuits and gravy.

Now, for some, they might have the time to make biscuits from scratch. But, biscuits and gravy is a meal that I can get finished in the time it takes to bake the biscuits.

IMG_3555

Seriously. These biscuits are tasty and puff up to a nice size. Two biscuits cut in half gives you a really large portion. And they’re super easy!

I usually buy a spicier type but I was making this for my kiddos and they like the mild much more than the spicy varieties.

After the sausage has cooked thoroughly, I sprinkle a tablespoon of flour. Be sure that the flour cooks all the way. You don’t want the taste of raw flour in your gravy…..ew.

So, while others might give you an exact recipe with an amount of flour and milk and how much you need to add….but…..I have found that a lot depends on the sausage that you are using and how much gravy you want to have when finished. I usually add a cup of milk at a time. Stir frequently. And be sure to get all of those cooked on bits of sausage scraped up off of the bottom of the pan. Your gravy should thicken up soon-ish because of the flour. This is when it becomes kind of fun to develop your own recipe. Do you need more milk? Should you add more flour next time? Try a different sausage. Do you get the same results?

I promise you, you will know when your gravy is ready. It will look ready. It will smell ready. And after a generous amount of black pepper (because I need a generous amount of black pepper in my gravy), it will be ready to pour on your lovely biscuits.

IMG_3561

Doesn’t that just look delicious? And, it’s so easy. It really is. Sometimes, I like to make a double batch of biscuits just so I have more biscuits ready for snacking during the rest of the week. (My girls love biscuits with some jelly or jam.)

What is your favorite breakfast-for-anytime meal? Are you a biscuits and gravy fan, too?

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few years ago, I made cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving for the first time. It was delicious. And after that one day, a tradition was born. Now, every Thanksgiving eve, I bring out my favorite cookbook and make a big pot of cranberry sauce to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. I also bring a couple cans of the canned stuff…..because I like both. And really, you can’t have too much cranberry sauce, right?

IMG_2666

I also usually run out to Target the day before to pick up some new festive disposable containers to put the finished cranberry sauce in. This year’s containers are super cute. Check out that polar bear!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your table is full of delicious eats and wonderful conversation with loved ones.

Dinner with Kids – Sometimes you win….Sometimes

After we went to the Country Fair at Kline Creek Farm, big girl was very interested in finding more ways to use honey. We had the chance to see honey being harvested straight from the hive. And we were able to taste the freshest honey possible – right off of the honeycomb. Well, we bought a container of honey when we went blueberry picking during our recent Michigan vacation. So, I started to plan. How about breakfast for dinner? (One of my favorite meals to make for myself.) I made cheesy scrambled eggs, opened a new container of canned peaches (we get them from Costco….and we go through them crazy fast), and I made some toast with butter and honey drizzled on it.

IMG_0172

Honestly, I was really happy with this meal. I thought that they would be excited about it. Look! Honey! And it tasted just as fresh as the honey that we had right off of the honeycomb at the Country Fair…..and guess what the girls ate for dinner?

Um.

Canned peaches. No cheesy scrambled eggs. No toast. I think they both licked the honey off of the toast. So, there’s that.

*sigh*

Dinner time. Sometimes you win. Sometimes. This just wasn’t one of those times.

Snacking…endless snacking

Oh man. I love snacks. I snack when I’m happy. I snack when I’m sad. I snack when I’m bored. I snack and snack and snack. So, it’s important (especially to get the new year off to a good start) to try to snack on good stuff. And, that’s not easy. Especially because the not-good-for-you stuff is soooooooo good.

I’ve been trying to keep chickpeas on hand simply because I love roasted chickpeas to snack on. I haven’t been able to get the girls on board with this snack yet (I think they know that  it’s actually fairly healthy…or at least it’s healthier than many other options) but I love them!

  1. Open a can of chickpeas.
  2. Dry the chickpeas as much as you can.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Toss the chickpeas in olive oil – lots of olive oil.
  5. Cook for 30-45 minutes. (I like it closer to 30 minutes so some pieces are a little chewy and some are crunchy.)
  6. Top with whatever seasonings you have on hand: sea salt, cayenne pepper, fresh herbs, whatever you think might taste good.
  7. Eat and enjoy!
  8. Repeat when you realize that you just finished off the entire batch yourself……
Yum!

Yum!

Sometimes You Just Need a Bowl of Dumplings

Blueberry Dumplings

Blueberry Dumplings

Blueberry dumplings. Yum. So easy. And so yummy. And such a great way to use up a lot of blueberries.

We had some blueberries that were dangerously close to be too old and that meant – dumplings! I’ve made this recipe before but it really is a solid recipe. It’s very easy to put together, requires very few ingredients, and you basically mix it together and set your timer.

Be sure that you have some vanilla ice cream on hand.  The ice cream melts almost instantly and adds a creamy texture and some extra flavor.

 

Banana Pumpkin Bread and What To Do If You Are Out of Pumpkin Pie Spice

I had two bananas that were in desperate need of being made into banana bread.  In the past several months, I’ve been making a Weight Watchers recipe for banana oatmeal bread.  It’s a fine bread.  Simple to put together.  But I wanted something a little different this time.

There are many cans of pumpkin in the pantry since I stocked up after the holidays were over.  And, I found a recipe for a banana pumpkin bread that had some good reviews.  You can find the recipe here.  I took a look in the pantry to be sure that I had all of the other ingredients and I did, with the exception of pumpkin pie spice.  Pumpkin pie spice is one of those ingredients that really make a big difference in the final product.  Luckily, I also found a substitute for pumpkin pie spice that you can make with ingredients that you probably already have.  You can find that recipe here.

It came together very easily.

On a side note:  I don’t usually bake with a lot of honey.  But when the honey hit the other ingredients, the smell swept me back to my childhood.  My Nana and Papa gave me a cookbook for my 8th birthday – one of many cookbooks that they gave me.  This cookbook was amazing.  I would cook something out of it quite frequently.  And, of course, I still have it.

Image

I flipped through it and could remember the recipes that I had tried when I was a kid.  It’s amazing how powerfully connected the sense of smell is to memories.  The smell of the honey in the bread recipe brought me back to one of my favorite recipes that I would make.

Image

Oh man.  Banana frothies.  So good!

Out of all of the cookbooks that I was given as a child, this one was probably one of my favorites.  Nana would usually inscribe something on the front cover.  Like, “Happy Birthday” or the hopeful “I’m sure you’ll become a great chef.”  Nana, I am not going to be a great chef as I get distracted when cooking and have destroyed too many pots by cooking rice and forgetting about it.  But, I think that you would be proud of my pastry chef abilities.

Anyways.  Back to the bread.  Here’s what it looked like on the way into the oven.Image

Not really a pretty bread but it did smell pretty good.

The outcome: this recipe has a weird baking time.  I noticed in several of the reviews that others had issues with the baking time.  This bread was in the oven for almost 25 minutes longer than the recipe called for.  The toothpick finally came out clean after 25 extra minutes but it seemed to take forever to get to that point.  The poor bread is covered in holes since I had to test it so many times!  It is also a lot darker than I thought it would be and I hope that the top isn’t baked too much.

The taste: I’m going to try it toasted.  The taste is pretty mild.  Sometimes banana breads and/or pumpkin breads are very strong because those two fruits can have very strong flavors.  But this is actually pretty light.  If I can ever figure out the actual baking time, this could become a favorite recipe.

IMG_20130404_212802