Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tortellini Salad with Grilled Tomato Vinaigrette

Pretty much every weekend means family time, a smoky grill, and fun foods around here.
Throw in a blue sky and some time in the pool and I'm a seriously happy lady!

I so look forward to cooking for the weekends.  I know I keep saying it...but I love sides.  That's where I have my fun when it comes to feeding people during the summer.  I'm always on the lookout for fun new salads, and the other day I came across an interesting-sounding recipe for Tortellini Salad with Grilled Tomato Vinaigrette and knew I had to give it a try.

Honestly, until I made (and promptly fell in love with) the Broccoli and Tortellini Salad I wrote about last year it had never occurred to me to use tortellini in a pasta salad.  I was definitely missing out, because it's fabulous.  It makes for a heartier salad and you get the benefit of the flavor of the cheesy tortellini filling as well.
No going back.  I find myself searching out tortellini salad recipes now!

More Fun With Frozen Drinks: Amaretto Sours

There was a time when I was young.
I know, hard to believe, even for me these days, but I totally was.

I used to go out with friends, stay out late, take impromptu road trips...lol those days are gone my friends.  I took my 10 year-old to her first concert the other night, didn't get home until almost midnight, and was soooo ready to crash by the time I got home after my late night.
Times have changed.

Anyway, back in the days of fun nights out with friends the Amaretto Sour was definitely my go-to beverage.  I'm not really sure why...I think somewhere in the back of my head it stuck that my mom- which is hard to believe, as she simply doesn't drink at all- is rumored to have enjoyed them at some point in time.  When I turned 21 it just sort of became my default drink order when I would go out.

These days sweet drinks have been replaced with dry red wines as my go-to beverage- in fact, I don't think I realized how long ago my early 20's were until, during a rare weekend away last year in Asheville, NC,  I ordered an Amaretto Sour on a whim while waiting for our table at a restaurant.
My husband stared at me in shock asking, "Who ARE you??".
Apparently I've been a wine person for longer than I thought if my Amaretto Sour days ended before  our relationship began!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Simple Meals and the Perfect Wrap Sauce

I fall back on wraps fairly often, especially when the weather is warm.  With the veggies and a little lunch meat they're refreshing and satisfying- and very easy to adapt to whatever you happen to have in the fridge at the moment.
There have been MANY nights when I realize my day has been filled with kids and popcorn orders and I'm just absolutely out of time at the end of the day when it's dinner time and my husband is about to get home from work.  Wraps are definitely a step up from a box of macaroni and way tastier, (generally) far better for us, and definitely easier on the pocketbook than having my husband grab fast food on the way home!

 Not to mention they're pretty much the perfect portable picnic food when the kids and I get out of the house for summer adventuring.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer Picnic Pinwheels: Spicing Things Up With Mezzetta Peppers

I seem to have a love affair with each season.  I eagerly anticipate the crisp air of Fall, the gray skies and holidays Winter brings, the kiss of warmth and blooming flowers of Spring.

And then there's Summer.

Ah, Summer...I love the feeling of the sun warming my skin, time at the pool, adventures with the kids, picnic lunches, the smell of tri-tip and other goodies wafting into the house as my husband tends to the grill, staving off the stifling heat with friends over a glass of Viognier (I've been dipping my toes into whites lately- something I never thought I'd say!).  Honestly, as a general rule there's not much I don't love about Summer.  The warmth and blue skies just make my soul sing.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tastes Like Summer: Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

Ladies and gentlemen, summer has arrived!  Well, unofficially.  The pool is open, the weather is warm, the kids are home and ready for adventures.  I'm one happy mama!  We've had a low-key Memorial Day weekend.  While the part of me that loves entertaining was kind of sad that we just hung out around the house this weekend, we really needed a break.  It's been a month full of company and traveling for birthdays, Mother's Day, and a host of other events.  We have company coming again this weekend.  We definitely needed some down time!
 So, while most of America soaked up the sun and grilled out we watched movies, played board games, ate breakfast for dinner, and just generally enjoyed being a family.  No complaints here.
While our weekend may have been plenty relaxed and homebodyish we decided that it was still deserving of a fun summer signature libation.  :-)

I mentioned that I've been a little blender-friendly lately now that I finally have a blender that's capable of turning ice into beautifully creamy concoctions.  I have been having soooo much fun making everything from smoothies for my daughter to grown up drinks and I honestly can't say enough good things about my Ninja!  Why did I suffer through life with a sub-par blender for all of those years??

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Easy One Pan Red Beans and Rice Bake

Can I share something with you?

I suppose I consider myself a foodie.  I get ridiculously excited about good restaurants.  I consume cookbooks like they're novels.  I wax rhapsodic about amazing ingredients.  I should be in a support group for Penzey's addicts.

That being said, that's not everyday real life.
Everyday life is your standard picky 10 year-old eater, a ridiculously frustrating-to-feed 5 year-old with autism, and me- a mom who is generally busy all day every day with popcorn making, household, and kids and just really doesn't have time to go all gourmet before my husband gets home in the evening.

That doesn't mean I want to serve my family a box of mac and cheese or frozen pizza every night, either.

Nope, I think most of us often need a happy medium in our lives.  Simple food that people will actually enjoy that comes together quickly without a lot of time involved.  Good foods that will nourish our family, fill them up, and make them happy.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Simmered In Tradition: Ragu Pasta Sauce Easy Dinner Bake


My daughter had a slumber party a couple of months ago and she asked that for dinner we do make-your-own pizzas.  It's one of her favorite activities when we have kids over, actually- I make up a batch of dough and let the kids go to town with toppings that I set out.  They stretch the dough and shape it in whatever crazy way they want and then make a mess of the countertop spreading sauce, sprinkling cheese, and liberally applying pepperoni and other toppings.It's kind of great- plus it's an activity and a meal all rolled into one, which is a win in my book.

At this particular get-together a little girl, wild-eyed with flour smeared on her apron as she stretched out her dough, said, "This is awesome!  We never play with food at my house!"
I was kind of taken aback, actually.  This was hardly the "playing with food" that our mothers warned us not to do at the dinner table.