Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Easy Summer Pasta Salad

LOVE this new summer pasta salad!  I found the recipe and Two Peas & Their Pod.  Please visit their fun family blog!

Like I mentioned in an earlier summer post, we have been making a lot of different salads.  They have been great for my family to eat when they are passing through or when we gather to eat together.  This one was really easy and really good.  I typically think a salad is better if the dressing is homemade.  I used Newman's Own Lite Balsamic Dressing for this salad.... and we loved it!

Easy Summer Pasta Salad  (adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

16 oz dry pasta ( I used Farfalle/bowtie)
1 small yellow, red and orange bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
1  12 oz. jar of artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup balsamic dressing, or more if needed ( I used Newman's Own Lite Balsamic)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkling or more of shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to "al dente" directions, Drain.  Toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking.  In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta and the chopped vegetables.  Add feta, basil, Parmesan and gently stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Chill until ready to serve.

*This was very yummy the next few days.  Add a little more dressing to liven it up if needed
**You can always add grilled chicken or another favorite meat

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Brownies "Whatever Floats Your Boat"

Love these gooey, chocolatey brownies!  They were soft and fudgey, yet they came out of the pan perfectly.  These brownies would be the perfect base to some good vanilla ice cream.

When I saw these brownies were called..."whatever floats your boat" brownies, I knew they would be fun.  I doubled the recipe, added 1 cup of milk chocolate chips and baked in a 9 x 13 metal pan.  They were great!

I have made these brownie three times now.  I love how easy they are, they yummy flavor and that I always have everything on hand.  I added a cup of milk chocolate chips the first time.  I added toffee pieces the second time and I added a variety of milk, dark and white chocolate chips the third time. All were fabulous! Feel free to add to these brownies "whatever floats your boat".  Add craisins, raisins, pecans, pretzel pieces, peanut butter chips, etc.

I found this recipe over at Food.com.  Please visit for lots of yummy recipes!

"Whatever Floats Your Boat" Brownies (adapted from Food.com)
   ** Here is the recipe for the 9 x 13 version  See Food.com for the 8 x 8 version

2 sticks of butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 - 2 cups of any add-in

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray or line with foil.  In a medium bowl, mix melted butter and cocoa.  Add sugar and mix well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla, flour and salt.  Stir only until you can no longer see the flour.  Don't over-mix!  Fold in "whatever floats your boat" and spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for about 23-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with moist crumbs - not clean.  Do not over bake or you will have dry brownies!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Honey Roasted Peanut Sandies

It is summer - I have more time to look for new recipes and get feedback from my family.  I saw this "Honey Roasted Peanut Crisps" cookie recipe in a Southern Living cookbook.  My family wasn't overly impressed..... but that is because they like soft, chewy chocolate chip type cookies.

I actually think these cookies have a great flavor.  I did add chocolate chips to the last half of the dough and I liked them better... but I like chocolate.  My hubby really liked them but he doesn't like chocolate as much as the rest of us.

If you like a "pecan sandie" type of cookie, give these a try!

Honey Roasted Peanut Sandies (adapted from Southern Living)

1 cup butter, softened or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening - I did all butter!
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups honey-roasted peanuts

Beat butter at medium speed with mixer until creamy - gradually add brown sugar, beating well.  Add egg and vanilla, beating well.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, gradually add to butter mixture, beating well.  Stir in peanuts.  Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet - or lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Dip a flat-bottomed glass in sugar and flatten each ball to 1/4 inch thickness  Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes or until edges or golden.  Cool slightly on pan and move to wire racks to cool.  Makes about 4 dozen.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Mandarin Pasta Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Dressing

Here is another yummy summer salad!  Serve as is or with grilled chicken.  My middle daughter loves a salad like this with fried chicken bites.  If you are here in Omaha, stop by our local No-Frills Grocery Store and pick up some yummy fried chicken tenders, chop in bite-size pieces and toss in your salad.

We all ate dinner at different times last night.  I had a bowl of spinach, a bowl of cooked pasta and the rest of the ingredients ready to be tossed together as they walked in the door.  Yea Summer Salads!

Visit Creme De La Crumb for other great recipes!

Mandarin Pasta Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Dressing (adaped from Creme De La Crumb)


1/3 cup thick teriyaki glaze or sauce 
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (may sub apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup oil (vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil)

Mix together and chill.  


8 oz cooked bowtie pasta
4 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup cashews or pine nuts (I used cashews)
14 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (I didn't use)

Cook pasta according to directions,  Drain.  I don't usually rinse pasta - I usually toss in a little olive oil to keep from sticking.  Set aside.  While pasta is cooking, prepare dressing, cover, shake and refrigerate.  In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients.  Just before serving, add dressing, toss and serve.  

*Feel free to add in your favorite meat - grilled chicken, steak, salmon, shrimp, fried chicken....

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

We often enjoy salads for dinner in the summer.  It can get pretty hot in Omaha and my husband isn't overly fond of a huge, hot meal in the summer.  It seems like we are all coming and going so if I have a good salad in the fridge... ready for whoever is passing through, everyone eats better!

I found this Mediterranean Pasta Salad over at A Family Feast.  I notice that today she has a Thai Corn Salad posted that I might have to try!

I thought this Mediterranean Pasta Salad was fabulous.  I loved the dressing - so light and refreshing. I used a 16 oz box of Ditalini pasta so you might choose to double the dressing if you use a 16 oz box of pasta.

I love olives - especially Kalamata olives.  My girls aren't so hip on olives.  So - I just put the olives in individual servings.  But if your family loves olives like I do, toss them in the salad!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad (adapted from A Family Feast)


1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped garlic (3-4 medium cloves)
2 Tbsp fresh oregano ( or half the amount if using dried)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about one large lemon)


12 oz Ditalini pasta (or other favorite pasta)
zest from one lemon
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped (I didn't use)
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced ( I did a variety)
8 oz crumbled feta cheese

In a medium saute pan,  heat the oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper over low-medium heat.  Cook slowly for about 8 minutes or until the garlic just begins to brown.  Removed from heat and add lemon juice.  Set this mixture aside.

Cook the pasta according to the box directions, al dente.  When the pasta is a little under done, removed to colander and drain but do not rinse.  Place drained hot pasta in a large bowl and add the flavored oil/lemon juice mixture.  Stir and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes.  Add all of the other prepared ingredients except feta, stir.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Stir in feta and serve.

Printable Version

Friday, July 3, 2015

Caprese Skewers

LOVE IT - what a great, yummy, healthy summer appetizer!  I love how it looks!  I especially love how easy it is to make.  All you need.... cherry tomatoes (cut in half), fresh basil leaves and fresh Mozzarella cheese.  Layer these on a toothpick - with the cherry tomato on bottom so they stand up and drizzle with a yummy balsamic glaze.  Also, think about making these during the holidays - perfect red/green appetizer!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sausage Bread

I have had this recipe for years.  Jennifer was my roommate at Baylor and this recipe is from her sweet mom, Terry!  This Sausage Bread is easy, yummy and savory - I love the flavor!  Also try my Sausage Pinwheels - a family favorite.

It calls for Bisquick and I would normally use Bisquick.  We had a large bag of Krustaez Pancake mix from Costco.  I compared the ingredients and just used it.  The bread turned out great!

Sausage Bread

1 lb breakfast sausage
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 egg beaten
2 Tbsp chopped parsley ( I used dried)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk

In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion til brown, drain.  Pour into a large mixing bowl, and mix in cheeses, beaten egg and parsley.  In another small bowl, make a biscuit dough by mixing Bisquick with milk and mayonnaise.  Add to the sausage mixture and fold and stir until all mixed together.  Pat mixture into greased square baking dish.  Bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly brown. About 16 squares