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.


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.

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.


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.

Summer Checklist – Update #6

Dinner. Check. Dinner from somewhere on the checklist. Check.

Both girls love going out to dinner or lunch or breakfast or brunch at restaurants. They both like picking what they want to eat. However, typically that means that they are choosing the same things no matter what restaurant we go to. Macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, or cheese pizza. Essentially, they eat a lot of cheese.

So, it’s nice to go to a place where (although macaroni and cheese is on the kid’s menu and that’s what they usually pick at other places) both girls choose to pick out different foods. Flat Top Grill is really the only restaurant where both girls will pick out lots of vegetables to eat! Yay! Veggies! And, there is always enough for them to eat for the next day’s lunch or dinner.


The updated checklist thus far:

  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the pool.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the playground.
  • Make cookies.
  • Go downtown.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Eat at Flat Top Grill.
  • Read books.
  • Eat at Noodles & Company.
  • Get ice cream.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Go to the water park.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Go to the movie theater.
  • Play on the McDonalds playground after lunch.
  • Go to family fun festival downtown.
  • Go to the Art Museum and go to the kids area after looking at paintings.
  • Go to the dinosaur museum (Field Museum).
  • Go to the space museum (Adler Planetarium).
  • Have a pajama day. (Although big girl has now requested that we have 100 pajama days.)

Our Garden

This summer, as with every other summer, Ryan has worked hard to get our back yard into shape. The previous garden was removed over the course of the last couple years and grass has been planted. The previous owner had planted a huge garden in the back yard. It was nice but it was huge. It took up over half of the back yard’s space. And we have two little goofballs who need to have space to run around. We finally have a back yard for kids to play in!

This year, we added in a raised bed for some veggies. Some of the plants are doing really well in the raised bed. Although, I think that next year we might add a couple new beds so that the zucchini can have it’s own bed and so the corn can have it’s own bed, too since those two veggies are doing really well but are starting to crowd everything else.


Sneaky little vegetables

Big girl is not a big fan of veggies.  She will eat her weight in corn, peas, or bell peppers but those are the main veggies that she will eat.  And even then, there are times when she will refuse even her three favorites.  So, I’m trying to find ways to get some extra veggies into her meals.

Little girl loves these!

Stars, stars, and more stars

Big girl loves thes girl could eat Annie’s All Stars every single day if we would let her.  I don’t feel too bad giving her these, though, because they are organic.  So, the ingredients are a little better than other similar options.  Plus, it’s easy to sneak some veggies into it.



Now, I am not a fan of V8.  I don’t like tomato soup.  I don’t like tomato juice.  And I don’t like the weird tomato-y film that is left on a glass of tomato juice.  But…..if you add some V8 to the can of Stars, you’ve instantly added some veggies without much effort.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Adding V8 makes the Stars a little runny but big girl likes it because it is similar to a soup.  And this girl likes soup.


Garden Preparations

Huge shout out to Ryan and my dad for doing a ton of work in the garden space last weekend.  Dad brought his rototiller and they tilled the garden.  Ryan has planted some small plants and some seeds.  Hopefully, this summer will bring with it a huge crop of veggies and fruits.

This section of the garden still needs some work but this is the view of our raspberries and the grape arbor (complete with new grape growth).

This section of the garden still needs some work but this is the view of our raspberries and the grape arbor (complete with new grape growth).


That whole space? All of that soil? Yep.  That's our garden!

That whole space? All of that soil? Yep. That’s our garden!