Tortellini Pasta Salad…

Tortellini Pasta Salad

Guess what? It’s 70 degrees here! Finally! Us Texans aren’t used to such cold, freezing weather; in fact, usually by now, most of us have already planted our gardens, trees, and flowers for the Spring/Summer. Not this year, however. This winter has been brutal! I read that we’ve surpassed something like 60 days of below freezing temps! I remember last February, Joel and I wore shorts and took long, sunny walks with Cassidy several days out of the month. Not this year.

Oh well. Hopefully the cold, wintry weather is on its way out and warm, sunny weather is here to stay for awhile. To celebrate our day of sunshine and warm breezes, I made this pasta salad for lunch. It’s so easy- just throw everything together and let it sit in the fridge for awhile. SO yummy!

Tortellini Pasta Salad 2

Tortellini Pasta Salad

8 oz. cheese tortellini, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 5 minutes, just long enough so that it’s still nice and crunchy, but starting to get a little tender. Transfer from boiling water to a large bowl filled with ice water (this stops the cooking process and helps the broccoli to retain its bright green color).

Toss the cooked pasta with broccoli and all other ingredients and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour; preferably 3-4. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

**you could also throw in some frozen peas, chopped red onion, scallions, yellow corn…whatever veggies you like! It’s so versatile!

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Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad…

Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad

Well, after making this (about 80 times now), I can tell you my fruit salad will never be the same! I used to struggle with fruit salads. Unless it was this version, they were just “ok” to me, but never something I’d go out of my way to make or eat. Who knew all it takes is one little secret ingredient to make your fruit salad sing?! :)

My sister told me about this little “tip” a long time ago and thought it sounded disgusting. I imagined overly-sweet, gloppy fruit salad. Not appetizing. However, one evening, I had some really under-ripe, really “blah” nectarines that I wanted to make a fruit salad with, only, they had basically zero taste. I remembered a box of vanilla pudding mix in my pantry and tossed in a small spoonful. WOW, what a difference! It brought out all kinds of flavor from the sad little nectarines, added a faint sweetness, and made everything taste deliciously ‘vanilla-y’ . We inhaled this fruit salad, then I proceeded to make it again, and again, and again.

Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad

2 nectarines or peaches, cut up into chunks
1/2 pint blueberries
handful green grapes, cut into halves
1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon instant vanilla pudding mix **

Toss fruit and pudding mix. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

**feel free to use more pudding mix if you like it really ‘vanilla-y’. I prefer just a hint.

Recipe source: my sister’s coworker

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Fruit Salad with Honey and Lime 2

I hope everyone had a happy Easter! Ours was great- the Easter Bunny came to visit Cassidy, church was great, and my whole family had a wonderful meal at my parents’ house. Of course Cassidy was the life of the party. ;)

One of the best parts about the meal was surprisingly not one of the decadent desserts (one of which was provided by me), but the simple fruit salad my sister brought. Nothing but fresh strawberries, blueberries, and grapes tossed in a honey-lime dressing. It was sooo good! Something about the combination of honey and lime juice is magic! I have a feeling this will be a pool-side favorite this summer!

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

1 pint container fresh strawberries, stems removed and cut into halves
1 pint container fresh blueberries, stems removed
1  bunch (about 1 1/2 pounds) seedless grapes
1/4 cup honey
juice from 2 limes (about 2-3 tablespoons)

Combine fruit in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice and honey until combined. Pour over the fruit and toss to coat. Serves a crowd.

Recipe source: my sister, via Oh! You Cook!

Fruit Salad with Honey and Lime

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My Mom’s Pasta Salad…

Hi there! Sorry it’s been so long, but thanks for sticking by me and being so patient! Today is the first day I’ve felt like even turning on my laptop in weeks! Hopefully all this yucky sickness will pass soon and I can get back to doing what I love: EATING! For those of you who are interested, I’m at 8 1/2 weeks and the baby is the size of a raspberry! How cute!

Anyway, I’ve wanted to post this pasta salad for weeks now because it’s SO good! It’s my mom’s recipe and she usually makes it in the summer. We had this on our Memorial Day menu along with barbecued chicken, grilled pineapple, baked beans and fresh strawberry pie (I could really go for some of that pie right about now!). Despite having mayo, it’s still really light and definitely not gloppy. The olives are my favorite part, but I also love the crunch of the celery and green peppers- really, every single aspect of it is delicious and you just can’t go wrong with this salad! Try it at your next cookout! You’ll love it!

My Mom’s Pasta Salad

1 16-ounce package spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces chopped pimento
2 cups celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Toss the cooked spaghetti with the oil and mayonnaise then stir in all other ingredients. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Recipe source: my mom

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Chicken Salad Bites…

When you think of baby showers or wedding showers, tell me, what’s the first food you think of? For me, it’s chicken salad, no doubt. I don’t know what it is about chicken salad, but it seems to be the honorary queen mother of shower food. Which is just fine by me, I adore chicken salad. Especially chicken salad with grapes and crunchy almonds….mmm. So naturally, when I was invited to take part in a little virtual baby shower for our fellow food blogging friend Annie, chicken salad was the very first thing to pop into my head! And to make it more accessible and “mingle-friendly”, I decided chicken salad bites would be perfect.

Annie will be having a sweet baby girl (little Caroline; What a sweet name!) in just a short while, and to show our support, a bunch of us bloggers are throwing her a virtual shower- how cool is that (and stay tuned, because I’m hosting a little shindig of my own in a few weeks!)?! My good friend Courtney, of Cook Like A Champion is our gracious shower hostess- she and Annie will have the entire round-up posted on their blogs, so be sure to head over for some beautiful dishes by a group of very talented bloggers!

Now, onto these chicken salad bites! I love a good crunch in my chicken salad, so this is full of crunchy sliced almonds and celery. There’s also green grapes and pineapple, and let me tell you, the pineapple really adds a delicious sweetness and flavor that compliments the chicken perfectly! The sauce is made up of non-fat yogurt and mayonnaise, so it’s a little lower in fat than most chicken salads. The salad sits in crisp little phyllo cups, which gives great texture and makes them easy to eat. Simply stated: this is really an easy, delicious dish to put together and it’s just perfect for parties (or showers!). :) Don’t forget to head over to Courtney and Annie’s blogs to see everyone else’s beautiful dishes! Happy baby shower, Annie! Congratulations to you and your sweet little family!

Chicken Salad Bites

30 baked phyllo cups (you can find these in the freezer section of the grocery store- they usually come in packs of 15)
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small can pineapple chunks (crushed would be fine as well)
handful green grapes, sliced into halves
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 squirt lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley and thinly sliced radishes, for garnish, if desired

Place the chicken breasts in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the tops. Boil on medium heat for approximately 1 1/2- 2 hours, until chicken is very tender. Remove the chicken and let cool.

Once the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the skin and bones and shred into small pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add in celery, pineapple, grapes and almonds.

In a small bowl, make the sauce. Stir together the mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken mixture and stir until combined. Taste for seasoning.

If serving immediately, place a small amount of chicken salad in each phyllo cup. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and thinly sliced radishes (optional).
If you’re making the salad ahead of time, keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. Don’t assemble the bites until right before serving, as the cups will get soggy.
Makes 30 cups.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper

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Crunchy, Fruity Chicken Salad…

You may not know this but chicken salad is one of my favorite things to eat. I love it! But surprisingly, I’ve only posted one recipe for it on my blog and it wasn’t even my own personal recipe. Well it’s been long enough!

There are SO many different ways of making a good chicken salad – my mom sometimes puts pineapple and almonds in hers and my grandmother puts a little whipped cream in hers. They’re all different and they’re all so good. Mine is a bit different from theirs, but not too much. I love it because it’s really crunchy, sweet and salty at the same time. Mmmm, just talking about it makes me hungry for more….. This is a perfect meal- it’s light, refreshing and keeps really well in the fridge for lunch the next day. You really need to try this one; I promise you’ll love it as much as we do!

My Chicken Salad

1 small rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded
2 celery stalks, chopped
handful red grapes, sliced in half (we like lots)
1/2 cup lightly salted cashews
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise (start with 1/4 cup and see if you need more)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and taste for seasoning; chill until ready to serve.

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Grilled Corn Salad…

Ok, I am officially FIRED UP about Summer!! Every year I get so depressed that the Christmas/Winter season will be over and Spring/Summer is on its way…but not this year! This year I was ready to kick winter to the curb and move on to sunny weather, warm breezes and spending as much time as possible outdoors. But, as luck would have it…it rained. Non-stop. For weeks. I feel like it’s been raining all. stinking. year. Just when we would get a taste of beautiful Spring weather – BAM! More rain for the next 4 or 5 days. But, this weekend, luckily, the rain subsided and we were blessed with a wonderfully sunny, warm, beautiful weekend. JOY! And to celebrate that, hubby and I decided to grill. I marinated (then hubby grilled) some chicken breasts in my beloved Lime Ponzu (and lemme tell ya- this stuff is an awesome marinade!!! Next up is grilled Lime Ponzu shrimp!), whipped up some spiced sweet potato bites with curry, chili powder and paprika (coming soon!) and topped it off with this grilled corn salad (aka, heaven in a bowl- you MUST try this!!). And WOW- what a great meal! We sat outside by the pool and enjoyed every second of our meal- especially the corn salad! And now, I’m SO ready for summer so we can do this every night!! Come on, summertime!!

Grilled Corn Salad
-adapted from For the Love of Cooking

4 ears of fresh corn, grilled, (I took off 1 layer of the shucks, then hubby grilled them over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
half a green bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeno, diced
1 avocado, diced
handful cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing: Put honey and lime juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the vegetable oil. Add salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad: Cut the corn off of the husks and place in a large bowl with tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeno, avocado and cilantro. Toss with dressing. Check for seasoning. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 4.

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Tangy, Creamy Macaroni Salad…

I realize I’ve sort of been MIA lately, but I have a good excuse – my sweet hubby took off Thursday and Friday to be with me and relax a bit (and wasn’t his timing impeccable? We’ve had nothing but NCAA tournament on for 4 days straight!). We’ve had such a wonderful 4 days together – we cooked together, played games (I’ve almost gotten to the point where I can beat him at Mario Cart…almost), took nice, long walks with Izzy, and he even helped me paint our dining room table! There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my husband (especially when life is SO happy and care-free)!  I just hate that he’s back at work now, and unfortunately, my Spring Break is over as well- it’s back to work tomorrow for me too. :-(

While we were enjoying our free time, we decided it would be nice to grill hamburgers and hot dogs; and one of my favorite things to serve with grilled burgers is macaroni salad. Mmmm! Macaroni salad is just one of those foods that puts me in a good mood. It’s crunchy, creamy, slightly tangy…I just love it! I just sort of “threw” this one together and it was actually one of the best tasting macaroni salads I’ve had! Our favorite part is definitely the little cubes of cheese – we loooove cheese! These measurements are just approximations, so be sure to taste as you go along and add additional seasoning or ingredients as needed to suit your tastes.

Creamy Macaroni Salad

1/2 pound macaroni, cooked, drained and completely cooled.
3 small carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1-2 Tablespoons jarred pimento
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (we like more cheese, so I ended up using closer to 3/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste (we like lots of black pepper)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup Creamy Italian salad dressing

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Fresh Tomato Salad Dressing

Poor hubby has had a hard week. So last night I wanted to make him a nice, relaxing, delicious dinner that would hopefully let him forget his troubles for a while. That’s just what I did; pan-seared Ribeye steaks with a mushroom cream sauce, baked potatoes, gelato (all coming soon!) and this salad – it was a wonderful meal and a wonderful evening!

There is an Italian restaurant we like to go to that has the best house salad dressing; they make it with fresh tomatoes and it’s totally delicious. I’ve been meaning to try and recreate it at home so we can enjoy it anytime. So of course when I saw this recipe on Kayotic Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. While this recipe was great – it wasn’t quite like the restaurant style we love so much- pretty close, though. However, it’s good to have this recipe on hand – it’s delicious!!

Fresh Tomato Salad Dressing
-Kayotic Kitchen

3 Roma tomatoes
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp oil
pepper
salt

I put all ingredients in a blender and pureed it until smooth. Taste for seasoning and refrigerate until needed.

This was a great salad – it was a nice change of pace from regular ranch dressing and we both loved it! I think hubby enjoyed his meal tremendously…I know I did!

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Bum Goolie!

No, I’m not speaking some strange, made-up language…Bum Goolie is a type of food! It’s light, it’s tart, it’s refreshing…it’s totally delicious! But what is it, you’re probably wondering…

I guess you could say it’s a type of salad. It’s been in my family for years ever since my Aunt Bunny gave my Nana the recipe. We have no idea what the heck “bum goolie” means, but hey, it tastes good and that’s all that matters. It’s sort of a salad of pickled tomatoes, banana peppers and onions – that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s absolutely delicious in the summer when tomatoes and banana peppers are in season and the weather is hot- it’s very refreshing. I love to stock up on tomatoes and peppers at the Farmer’s Market and make a big batch – it goes great with pretty much every meal.

Here’s how I make it:

Bum Goolie

6-8 long, fresh banana peppers, seeded and chopped into bite-size chunks
3-4 tomatoes, seeded, cut into chunks
1/2 a yellow onion, cut into chunks
1/2 – 3/4 cup white vinegar (depending on how tart you like it – add as much or as little as you like. I like mine pretty tart, so I’d probably use a little more than this)
1/2 water
1 teaspoon sugar (or more if you like it a little sweeter)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (it will be very liquidy – you’ll need a slotted spoon when you go to serve it); cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. Overnight is best.

I know it looks and sounds weird, but trust me, it’s delicious. I just love it in the hot summertime! Enjoy!

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