Summer Checklist – Update #4

We had a pajama day recently. It was much needed since we had been going nonstop for several days. It was good to have a day of just lounging around. It was also a good day to cross off one of our items on the to-do list: making pasta salad.

For this batch of pasta salad, we used our last bag of fun shaped pasta.


Once it was complete, the girls liked to try to find all of the turtle pastas.

And then, as I do every time I make pasta salad, I just added whatever vegetables we had on hand. And then added a can of beans. This time, it was garbanzo beans.


Add in some Italian dressing and you’ve got kid tested and approved pasta salad.

The list thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.



Has Anyone Ever Been Excited to Eat a Salad?

I am fairly certain that no one has ever been excited to eat a salad. I know for sure that I never have. Well, let me specify. The only salad I’ve ever been excited to eat was the Waldorf salad that my grandpa made. Although, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that it was called a Waldorf salad. We always called it apple salad. His was not a typical Waldorf salad. That salad taught me that marshmallows could and should be a salad ingredient.

But…..I have been trying to eat better. Grad school and other stresses have led to some (or a lot) of stress eating so I’ve been trying to eat more veggies and more salad. I have found a salad that I don’t mind eating. Fresh Express bag salads (specifically the chopped kits) are pretty good.  There are greens but also extra crunchy things and the included dressings are pretty good.


But really…..the reason that I am trying to eat more salad? It’s so that I can eat more of the stuff that I want to eat. I tell myself that if I eat some veggies, then I can have some dessert.

Why do I eat salad?

So that I can eat a donut.



My Kid is Excited About Pasta Salad

My kid is excited about pasta salad. How in the world did I get that to happen? Well, it all begins with fun pasta.


Pasta with fun shapes? Yea. That got her interested.

Then, I did veggie prep and she got to add the veggies but also snack on the veggies as I cut them. She might not consistently eat veggies at dinner, but if I just hand her a couple while I cut them, she’ll eat them up.


When making a pasta salad, I tend to just put whatever I have into the salad. So, this time I added tomatoes, celery, and green pepper. I had some marinated artichoke hearts that I cut up and added (big girl decided that she likes artichokes) and then I tossed in some canned tuna (big girl also decided that she likes canned tuna because “it tastes like chicken”). I added a can of kidney beans but big girl is like her daddy and isn’t a big fan of beans. I then tossed it all together with some Italian dressing.

We put the finished salad in the fridge after the pasta was done cooking so that it could cool and so the dressing could work its way into the ingredients.


Finished product? Big girl loved it. Who knew? I think that this summer is going to be filled with pasta salads.

Potato salad

So, we had some small potatoes from our CSA and a bunch of dill. Dill is one of those herbs that I love (it smells like summer!) but I have very little use for (how many ways can you actually use dill?). So, I decided to make a potato salad.

I chopped up the potatoes. Boiled and drained them. Sprinkled them with a bit of apple cider vinegar and some salt and pepper. Then tossed them with mayo, mustard, and dill.

Well, the texture was a bit off because I boiled the potatoes too long.  However, the taste was great.   That’s one of the reasons why I love potato salad so much.  You can pretty much throw anything together and it’ll probably make a good potato salad.

What’s your favorite potato salad recipe?

Shaved Asparagus Salad

When I was younger, I hated asparagus. I hated hated hated asparagus. It wasn’t until Ryan and I started dating that I was able to begin to overcome my feelings toward asparagus. Ryan roasted some asparagus in the first meal that he made for me. And that was the beginning of a new world for me and asparagus to live in.

We recently joined a CSA and our first delivery had some rather nice looking asparagus in it. I saw a salad in the May 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living that used shaved asparagus. You don’t have to even turn on the oven! Since it is really really hot out and we don’t have central air conditioning, any food that doesn’t require added heat is fine by me.

To prepare the salad, you snap off the ends of the asparagus spears and then use a vegetable peeler to shave it into ribbons. Please note, this is a lot easier said than done.  If our asparagus had been thicker it might have worked out better.  I alternated between using a vegetable pealer and using a small mandolin to try to shave the asparagus into ribbons.  Once you have shaved the asparagus into ribbons, then you toss the ribbons with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. One of the goals that I have established for myself is to work on my improvisational skills in the kitchen.  (This is one of the reasons that I bake far more often than I cook.  Baking basically requires that you don’t improvise.)  So, instead of the shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese that was used in the magazine’s recipe, I topped it with some toasted almonds for a little bit of crunch.  I’m sure that the cheese would also taste very good but the almonds were also incredibly delicious.

It is a really tasty salad.  The lemons that I had were very fragrant and lemony.  I added quite a bit of pepper and I recommend doing that if you are going to try this salad.