Italian Salad(Pasta or no Pasta)

Let’s face it, I love all pasta.  I love it hot, cold and leftover!

When I think of pasta salad I think of summer. But this Italian Pasta Salad can be served all year long hot as a main dish, cold as a side dish, and packed in the lunchbox the next day for a yummy lunch your kids will love!

pasta salad

Don’t want the pasta? Put it over Romaine lettuce instead! I love making an Italian Salad for a crowd because sometimes I don’t want to make an antipasto and a salad. So, I combine them and there you have it! Like everything else this recipe can be adjusted depending on what you have in the house.

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Italian Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

With Pasta:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of small elbow pasta(or any type you prefer)
  • 1 packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 of a red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup of Giardeniera Italian mix, drained
  • 7-10 oz pack of mozzarella balls(the little pearl ones)
  • 1/4 cup of pepperoni or salami, chopped into small pieces
  • big bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water.
  2. Cook pasta per directions on box.
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. Prepare the dressing per directions on box.
  5. Put the pasta in a large bowl.
  6. Add all the ingredients except for the dressing.
  7. Toss together. Make sure you added enough salt and pepper. It needs a good amount.
  8. Drizzle with a little bit of dressing and mix again.
  9. Add enough dressing so that everything is coated and tasty.
  10. Before serving you may need to add more dressing to moisten the pasta.

Without Pasta:

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 of a red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of black olives, halved
  • 7-10 oz pack of mozzarella balls(the little pearl ones) or shredded mozzarella
  • 1 can of hearts of palm
  • 1 can of marinated mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of pepperoni or salami, chopped into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare the dressing per directions on box.
  2. Lay your lettuce on a platter.
  3. Top the lettuce with all the toppings except for the dressing.
  4. Season with salt and pepper salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle with a little bit of dressing.

Enjoy!

Listed below are some of my other favorite salads…

No Romaine, No Problem

Shoepeg Corn Salad

 

 

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Rockin’ Ramen

So, my boys recently said the words I thought I’d never hear. “Mom, everyone else at school eats Ramen Noodles. Why can’t we have it?”

My response of course was, “It’s gross and has way too much sodium.”

But of course my next trip to the supermarket I left with some Ramen noodles. I figured they would hate it. Well, guess what? They liked it. And they wanted it every day after school.

That is what led me to making my own homemade version. It was good, but simple. There was something missing though. Then it came to me… MITA! Of course my friend Mita will have a recipe she can share. I texted her asking if she has a homemade Ramen noodle recipe. Five minutes later she had a picture and recipe for me.

I’ve mentioned my friend Mita in several other blogs. We met when our kids attended pre-school together. I joke that I stalked her, but it’s the truth. She was so sweet and I wanted to be her friend. Lol. Then she baked me peanut butter blossom cookies and we were friends from that point on. I grew up in an Italian Catholic household in the suburbs of Long Island. Mita grew up in an Indian Hindu household in the city of San Francisco. But we raise our boys very similar and have the same values. I’ve learned a lot of different things from Mita. She taught me about different spices and how to use them while cooking. She also taught me how to eat slow, especially when we are out to eat. I am still working on that one! Mita also taught me how to listen. She’s so patient when other people talk. Another thing I am still working on…

BTW, she moved to Texas and I am not happy! 

So, I followed her recipe and it is amazing! It takes a half hour and is a big bowl of comfort.

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Your Ramen Soup essentials:

Reusable Chopsticks

Soup Spoons

Soup Bowls

Rockin' Ramen with Optional Chili Bomb

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tsp. of grated ginger
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 package of shiitake mushrooms (sliced thin)
  • 2 Tbsp. of low sodium soy sauce
  • 64 oz. of beef or chicken broth (Mita prefers beef, I love either)
  • 1 Tsp. of rice vinegar
  • 1 Tsp. of chili sauce or sriracha
  • 2 cups of bean sprouts
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 8 oz. package of Chinese noodles (I use KAME)

Optional: Chili Bomb (goes in the center of the bowl on top of everything else for an extra explosion of flavor)

  • Chili Sauce
  • Garlic, sliced
  • Scallions, chopped
  • dash of soy sauce

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat the sesame oil.
  2. Saute garlic and ginger for about 1 minute. (Do not brown)
  3. Add carrots and soy sauce. Stir.
  4. Add broth, vinegar, and mushrooms.
  5. Bring to a slight boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add chili sauce or sriracha. Stir.
  7. Taste and add more soy sauce or chili sauce if needed.
  8. Add noodles to the pot, and cook per directions on the package.
  9. Serve in individual bowls. Top each bowl with a bunch of bean sprouts. Submerge them into the broth.
  10. Top with green onions and the optional Chili Bomb if you like it spicy!

Enjoy!

If you like this, you will also enjoy:

Salsa Salsa

Mita’s Slow Cooker Chicken

Holy Guacamole

Soup Season

 

 

 

Ravioli with Crushed Tomato Sauce

When I think of Valentine’s Day dinner, I think of a simple, comforting meal at home with my family. Ravioli with Crushed Tomato Sauce may not look simple, but it is! And it’s so quick that it allows me to spend more time with my family instead of time in the kitchen. And nothing shows love better than Ravioli with a red Crushed Tomato Sauce. Right?

The only ravioli my mom ever bought when we were growing up was Pastosa. They were so delicious. We used to eat them raw out of the box! I can get them(frozen) at The Boys near me, but if I don’t feel like taking a ride there, I can pick up Mimi’s Ravioli at Western Beef. They are also very tasty.

 

 

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Go ahead and make your dinner at home look fancy. A beautiful lace tablecloth and a vase of fresh flowers is all you need.

If you are in the market for new wine glasses these are the perfect stemless wine glasses.

I love my square white plates that I have, but these dinner size ones are perfect for a bright dinner like this.  I love how a white plate always makes the food look that much better…

Better Homes and Gardens Square Porcelain Dinner Plates, White, Set of 6

RAVIOLI WITH CRUSHED TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of Ravioli(Pastosa, Mimi’s or similar)
  • 2-28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • EVOO
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

  1. In a large saute pan heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and garlic.
  3. Once garlic is light golden, add both cans of crushed tomatoes (When I pour the tomatoes in the pan there is usually some leftover tomatoes in the can. Fill both cans 1/3 of the way with water and swish it around to get all the leftover tomatoes.  Add that to the pan as well.)  
  4. Lower the heat to low so it doesn’t splatter.
  5. Add 2 pinches of salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Stir and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water.
  8. Cook the ravioli per directions on the box.
  9. Drain the ravioli and top with the crushed tomato sauce.
  10. Sprinkle with grated cheese and enjoy!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you will also like:

Lasagna Rolls

Momma’s Meatballs

Call it what you want…

Meat Sauce

 

Game Day

If you ask me whose playing in the Superbowl, I promise you I will NOT know the answer. My husband says he stopped watching football once he started dating me. And that’s pretty accurate. No one in my family ever watched sports, so that is that. Lol. He can totally watch it, but my main focus will always be the food and the halftime show! But now that we have 2 boys, he has made a point to start watching it again. I’m ok with that, as long as there is some good food, not just a bowl of Doritos!

So if you are planning on watching the game and are having friends over, here are some of my favorite game day foods that will keep everyone happy, whether they watch the game or not… Feel free to pick and choose your favorites and throw in some classics like chicken wings and chili!

  • You have to start with chips and dip! People come hungry on game day and love to pick. These are two of my favorite dips that will start the day off in the right direction.

Guacamole and Salsa: This combo is always a hit and goes quick on days like this, so make double batches!

If you were asked to bring a dish to a friend’s house, this Shoepeg Corn Salad is amazing! Make ahead and bring a big bag of Tostitos. It will be the star of the game.

 

  • I like to serve pizza as an appetizer. I highly recommend you keep the toppings simple and use a pizza slicer to slice them into small, handheld slices. For some reason everything tastes better when it’s bite size.
  • Stuffed Bread is a great option for game day. It’s a hearty meal for big eaters.
  • And who doesn’t love a big platter of meatballs? I would make them small enough so that you can serve them with toothpicks and your friends can just pop them in their mouth!

If your’e crowd isn’t full after all this food, you may have a problem. But I think everyone should be full and happy.

I know most people want beer on Game Day, but if I was at a Super Bowl party after hours of drinking and eating I’d be looking for strong coffee and a sweet treat! Hello, Annie’s Crumb Cake… It’s simple, delicious and will feed your crowd.

Go Mets! JK, but not kidding…

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If you like this blog, you will also like:

Soup Season

Can’t Have a Party Without a Punch

“Crowd Pleasing” Rice Pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soup Season

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I just came back from a weekend in Long Island and was quickly reminded that it is soup season! I had so much fun with all the girls and of course my adorable nephew, but I was freezing. My Florida blood couldn’t handle the cold. I make soup all year long due to the fact that it is usually easy and healthy. Some soups are heartier than others. If a soup I make is not filling enough for my hungry family, I will make a salad and some garlic bread before. Here is a list of FIVE of my favorites that I put on rotation all year long, not just this time of year!

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wala

soup

spin tort 1

Honestly, if you are a soup maker like me you need a slow cooker and a dutch oven.

This set includes the Rockcrok®Slow Cooker Stand and Dutch Oven! You will have everything you need to make soup in one set.

I love a white bowl for soup. These bowls are simple in white with a chic square edge design. Set of 8/$24.99

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Click here to shop some of my favorite items.

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Sausage and Peppers

This is one of those meals that I make if I need to feed a lot of hungry people. You can make it all ahead and then just heat and serve. It’s filling and delicious. I either serve it with a big loaf of Italian bread OR I add potatoes to the recipe. This time I added potatoes and it was yummy! I like to use good quality pork sausages or chicken sausages.

If you are looking to keep it light for the new year, use chicken sausages and no bread. You can even add mushrooms to get more veggies in.

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There are a few items you will need to help you prepare this delicious family meal:

Kitchen Shears

Large Sheet Pan

Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

 

  • 3 rings of Italian sausages or 2 packages. (You can get mild, sweet, or spicy.)
  • 6-8 peppers, seeded and sliced (I use mostly cubanelle peppers and then add a couple of red bell)
  • 1 bag of small potatoes, sliced or quartered
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Optional:  14.5 oz  can of tomato sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Unfold sausage rings and cut with kitchen scissors to pieces about the size of a hot dog.
  3. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes turning halfway. Set to the side until vegetables are done.  (The sausages should be brown, but not too overdone because you will be cooking them again. You can also throw them on the grill and they would be even better!)
  4. Place the peppers, potatoes, onion and garlic in a separate baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Toss to coat evenly.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes turning a couple of times so everything gets cooked evenly.
  7. Add the sausages to the baking sheet with the vegetables. If using the tomato sauce, pour the can of sauce on top and mix it all together so everything is coated.
  8. At this point you can put the whole tray in the fridge until about a half hour before you are ready to eat. When you are ready, put it back in the oven until hot-about 20 minutes.

Enjoy!    

If you enjoyed this recipe, you’ll also like:

Smashed Potatoes

Grilled Skirt Steak

Stuffed Bread

 

Baked Ziti with Sausage

This recipe is all about me! 😊 When I’m having a “hungry” day and want to eat a comforting meal, this is what I make. It feels like a holiday meal, but I make this all throughout the year. There is usually enough leftover for dinner another night. Don’t let the name fool you. It is not your typical baked ziti with tons of ricotta cheese(not that there’s anything wrong with that!) It’s a vodka sauce, but light. Not too creamy and heavy. Just perfect.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Baked Ziti with Sausage

Ingredients

  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3/4 of a red onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of vodka
  • 2 cans(28 oz. each) of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream(you can use half and half to keep it lighter)
  • 1 pound of pasta(I always use Ziti Rigati with the lines to catch the sauce)
  • 10 ounces of baby spinach
  • 12 ounces of chicken sausages(I buy organic chicken and kale and it is yummy, but any Italian sausage will do)
  • 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

Sausages:

  1. Preheat oven to bake 425
  2. Bake sausages for about 20 minutes or until brown and cooked completely.
  3. Put aside for now.

Sauce:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat.
  4. Add the vodka, then return the skillet to the heat. Cook until almost evaporated. About 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and oregano. Cook on low for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cream and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pasta:

  1. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente according to package.
  3. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
  4. Drain and return pasta and spinach to the pot.

Combine:

  1. Slice the sausage in half and then cut into small pieces about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Add about 1/2 of the tomato sauce, sausages, and grated cheese. Toss to coat.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and put all contents in a shallow baking dish. Depending on the size of the baking dish you may want to divide it into 2 separate baking dishes. This is great if you want to freeze one for another night or bring it to a friend’s house.

Bake:

  1. Top with a little more sauce and grated cheese.
  2. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

I love pasta!  If you’re not feeling this dish here are several others that are delicious also!

Sunday Dinner

Orecchiette with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

Ravioli with Crushed Tomato Sauce

Bowties with Broccoli