Sunday, July 29, 2012

My littlest sweetie....

Ok, so she's not my tiniest kid these days, but she's still my tiniest girl. AND SHE's FOUR?!?!?! How did that happen??? 

Happy Birthday, Sweet Thing!

The Best Pasta Salad You've Ever Eaten...

Whenever we have a family get together planned, I always check the sale ad before I commit to what I'm bringing. This week, veggies were on sale at Aldi, so I committed to bringing a pasta salad to my father in law and daughter's birthday celebration. I always use the same method for pasta salad and people always act like it is the best pasta salad they have ever tasted. Last night, I sent my leftovers home with family, and now my people are mad at me because they wanted to snack on this! So, here is how I do it,

Ingredients -

1 lb of pasta, cooked as directed
4 or 5 different veggies (diced) (I've used bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and red onion)
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 bottle of ZESTY (very important) Italian dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions -

While your pasta is cooking, dice the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Once your pasta is cooked, drain and rinse until it is nice and cold. Place the noodles in the bowl with the veggies and top with half a bottle of dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I use a ton of black pepper and a little salt.) Once everything is mixed together, you can cover with saran and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. Before serving, top with the remaining half a bottle of dressing. Serve cold!

See! I told you it was super easy!!! We actually have this as our main dish for dinner a lot in the summer too! It's just so refreshing and healthy!

See more recipes at Beauty and Bedlam!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Marinara

Whoa! I'm back! After endless seemingly endless complications and half a million boxes, we're finally almost 100% settled in to our new house! Now, if we could just find my husband's wedding ring, we'd be golden! Our new house is easily twice the size of our old house, and we are just so happy with the space! My kids have a huge finished basement to go nuts in, and they have just been thrilled. My six year old's first request was for a trapeze down there, which was good for a laugh! Regardless, I haven't heard a peep about the trapeze since the first day we moved in, their totally happy with their sea of toys and room to do cartwheels!

Of course, I'm really happy to be back to cooking! I even have empty cabinets in my new kitchen! The new kitchen is not without it's quirks, but I'll get used to it. (I'm really missing my island!) We'll make some changes over time too. And, you'll notice that my pictures have a new setting! We have a really sunny eat in kitchen nook that I think will be very picture taking friendly! I ALSO have a super old and ugly table (see above) that isn't the hottest back drop. Someone gave us this table ten years ago when my husband moved in to our first apartment. It's been in the basement of our old house since 2006, but we had to break it back out since we have both a formal and informal eating space now! We'd planned on replacing it before we moved in, but I haven't found an alternative that I like either. I'd rather stick with something free that I hate than pay for something new that I hate.

Sunday is my husband's new work day. I was happy to try out a new recipe in the crockpot while the kids and I hit the pool this afternoon. My oldest daughter really loved it! She had three huge bowls! Here is my adapted recipe,

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3 cups of marinara sauce
  • 1 handful of grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 orange bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 box of rigatoni (I use rigatoni because it's so much easier for little people to manage.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  • Directions -

    • Place chicken in a 4-qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the marinara sauce, tomato, Italian salad dressing, Italian seasoning, garlic and bell pepper; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender. Melt in 2 tablespoons of butter when the chicken is cooked.
    • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Serve chicken and sauce with pasta; sprinkle with cheese.