I love holiday weekends in the summer! Having my husband home one extra day during the week with me and the kids is the best. He hit the grill and I made this awesome pasta salad. In our case it served 3 and I guess 1/4 with the baby. It is my new favorite!

Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Serves 6

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

NOTE: I altered a few things in the dressing recipe: 4 Tablespoons of olive oil instead of 6, no capers, and used parsley instead of basil. A sneaky little bunny has found his way into my garden and ate all my basil...not happy!

Cook the pasta:

Boil water and cook the pasta according to directions. Cook al dente, 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Drain well. Place the pasta in a big serving bowl.

Add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Make the dressing:
In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper.

Mix until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well. Serve immediately or refrigerate.




It never fails, we have taco night once per week. It it so quick, easy and a crowd pleaser. However, some of the ingredients in the easy store-bought packets are a little mysterious to me. So I found this great recipe and I premix the spices then keep them in a baggie in the pantry; so that way I am ready to go when I am short on time but still want a home cooked meal.

Beef Tacos
Adapted From The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
Serves 4

Beef Filling:
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, about 1 Tablespoon
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
ground black pepper

Shells and Toppings:
8 taco Shells
Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes

Other Topping Ideas:
Diced avocado
Chopped onion
Sour cream
Black beans
Chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the garlic...

and spices...

stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef, break up the meat into small pieces and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Keep skillet uncovered and stir frequently to break up the meat completely. Simmer until the liquid has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.

Season as needed with salt and pepper. Serve into taco shells, garnish with toppings and serve immediately.

These would be great with Homemade Flour Tortillas.

So happy summer is here...




Finally summer is here and we are spending every second we can outside playing. With all this hot weather I am noticing my icy pop supply is depleting quickly. My daughter is constantly running around with an artifically colored mouth and asking for more frozen treats. I found a great healthy alternative to the sugar-loaded store-bought frozen treats over at .

Watermelon Pops- Clean Eating

1 watermelon (overly ripe, seedless and sweet)
cookie cutter
popsicle sticks

Slice half the watermelon in 1/2 inch slices. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Insert a Popsicle stick or a wooden skewer into the shapes. Freeze the shapes on a baking sheet for a few hours. Use the other 1/2 of the watermelon as a holder for the watermelon pops.

When watermelon is frozen the texture is like a Popsicle, it doesn't freeze all the way.




I love caramelized onions so I knew this sauce was something I had to make. It is so sweet and delicious. It is also very dense so when I say toss the sauce with the pasta, I mean it. I had to stir it quite a bit to get all the pasta covered. If you love onions you will love this sauce. If you use homemade pasta (which is more absorbent than store bought) Marcella suggests using 1 Tablespoon more butter when starting the sauce.

Smothered Onion Sauce
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Serves 4-6

2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds onions, about 6 cups or 3-4 medium onions
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta

Slice the onions thinly.

Put butter, onion and salt in a large skillet. Cover and turn on the lowest heat setting. Cook for almost an hour, until the onions become very soft.

Uncover, and increase heat to medium-high and cook onions until they become a deep, dark gold color (this took about 20 minutes on my stove), stirring occasionally and until all the liquid has boiled away.

Season with pepper. Taste and add salt if needed. Add wine, increase heat, and stir continuously while wine evaporates. Add parsley and stir.

Toss with cooked and drained pasta. Add Parmesan. Serve immediately.




Today was spring cleaning for the outside of the house...picking weeds, putting down wood chips, gardening, raking, etc. After all the hard work, the best part was coming inside to the smell of barbeque pork.

This is a great weekend recipe. I know, I think that about any slow cooker recipe...but it's true! Your whole house smells awesome and you have access to warm delicious food all day long...nothing better!

I am taking a blogging vacation for a week but I will be back with hopefully some new and inspiring recipes for you!

Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwich
Adapted from Baking Bites
Serves 10-12

5-6 lb. pork shoulder/pork butt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 cup water

Place onion on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork shoulder, trimmed of any obvious excess fat, into slow cooker on top of onions. (I have to be honest, I usually use boneless pork sirloin...I know it has "less flavor" and is suppose to be tougher but I always think it tastes great and with all the BBQ sauce its hard to dry out...just don't overcook. When I look at the pork shoulders in the market and I see all that fat, I have a really hard time making the purchase!)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients to form the barbecue sauce. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and cover. Set remaining sauce aside.

Cook over low heat for about 8 hours (or according to your slow cooker’s presets, mine happens to run a little hot and it was ready in 5 hours).
Remove pork to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Transfer meat back into slow cooker and cook for a few more minutes, until meat has soaked up the sauce.

Pulled pork can be held on the “warm” setting in the slow cooker for serving.
Serve on soft sandwich rolls (I like mine toasted)

and topped with extra barbecue sauce.

Perfect end to the perfect day...



I am so happy, the garden is tilled and all my vegetables are planted. Well, almost all...I still need to put in zucchini and coriander. I had to plant early this year and I am crossing my fingers that we won't have a late frost.

Here is a perfect easy pasta recipe for the abundance of spring asparaagus.

Penne with Asparagus
Adapted loosely from Food Network's Pasta with Asparagus

3/4 pound penne
6 garlic cloves, minced or through garlic press
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large covered pot, boil water for the pasta. Once water is boiling, add penne and cook al minute less than recommended time.
In a large skillet add oil and butter on medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add asparagus and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat. Add Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.



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