Tri (our) Pasta Salad!

 

Yesterday was Sunday brunch-becue day! Steak & chicken shish-kabobs required a light and refreshing side, so we decided go with a tri-colored pasta salad. This dish was especially fun because a major component, the tomatoes and cucumbers, began as its own side dish (compliments of a guest), but when deciding what to add to the pasta I ended up combining the two and voilà, lunch!

Tri-Colored Pasta Salad

Tri-colored Pasta

Sea Salt

Ground Pepper

Distilled Vinegar

Olive Oil

Chopped Kalamata Olives

Ice

Boil a pot of salted water (salted water makes all the difference between bland and flavorful pasta). Taste the pasta. It should be soft but still able to hold its shape (this is called al dente). Strain and immerse in ice water to flash chill. Strain again, add a splash of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, mix and set aside. Skin and slice cucumbers, slice tomatoes, add to pasta alongside the olives and mix again. And that’s it! A quick, light, perfect compliment to any barbecue!

Tip: Chopped pepperoni and/or cubed cheddar can be added to spruce up the salad even more!

 

Vegetable Cream Cheese Bagels!

This morning we had guests over the house. Added to our already large family, that made for quite a few people to feed. For a quick, delicious breakfast I opted for bagels with assorted cream cheeses. If you have an ALDI near you (there are three near us here in Tampa) this meal costs just a few dollars and will satisfy sweet and savory taste buds alike!

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1 block cream cheese

Chopped Broccoli

Chopped Onions

Chopped Celery

Chopped Carrots

2 tsp Onion Salt

Throw ingredients in your favorite mixer and blend. Adjust portions until you get the consistency you like. For sweet, substitute your favorite jam for the vegetables (this morning we used raspberry jam) or try cinnamon and sugar instead (be sure to blend until sugar crystals are fully dissolved). The possibilities are endless!

Decorative Napkin Rings

Happy Day before Thanksgiving! This being our favorite holiday and all, we like to make an impression. So this year, we decided to spruce things up with some hand made napkin rings. They turned out beautiful, and (more importantly?) they kept our guests busy working while we were busy cooking!

Decorative Napkin Rings:Rings1

  • Toilet Paper Rings
  • Hemp String
  • Glue Gun
  • Miniature Flower Embellishments
  • Patience

Cut the toilet rings to your desired width. Start with the hemp on the inside, binding it to the ring with a drop of glue.Rings2

Continue until the ring is completely wrapped, tucking the end underneath and finishing with glue.Rings3Decorate with your favorite embellishments and enjoy the compliments when they start pouring in! (hint, hint)

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And finally, have a wonderful day with your friends and family celebrating the most non-materialistic and precious gifts of all: love and friendship for one another.

Rainbow Pancakes

Today is my daughter’s birthday, and for breakfast we made her her favorite: rainbow pancakes! We used our pancake recipe, divided it into small portions, and dyed them with food coloring accordingly. It’s simple, but an absolute delight as far as the kids are concerned.

Rainbow Pancakes

1 cup flour

Pinch sea salt

2 tablespoons sugar (we used powdered but granulated works too)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup milk

Vegetable oil

1 egg

Splash vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients (just a quick pour of vegetable oil will do), and then combine the two. Don’t over do it on the mixing; they’re should be plenty of bubbles and even some small chunks visible in the batter. Heat pan (non-stick pans work best here) at low to medium heat. Pour a small amount in a separate container, add dye, and pour onto pan. As soon as bubbles are visible throughout the pancake, flip over. Cook through (no more than a minute) and repeat until you have completed your own rainbow stack!

Tip: My daughter wakes up early, so rather than try and beat her to the punch we made the pancakes after she went to bed and simply reheated them in the morning.

Extra Tip: Place a chunk of butter in a gravy boat, submerge it in maple syrup, and pop it in the microwave. Once heated, pour over pancakes. Lip. Smackingly. Good.

Stuffed French Toast Sticks

Holy cow, talk about delicious! To be honest, I doubted my wife when I saw her removing these from the stove-top. I have my fair share of recipes that haven’t quite gone according to plan, and for a moment I expected the same out of these. Let me assure you, I could not have been more wrong! These sweet cream cheese & banana stuffed french toast sticks may be my favorite take on french toast yet!

Banana Stuffed French Toast Sticks

For this recipe we made 6 sandwiches altogether.

12 slices whole wheat bread

2 bananas

Butter

3 eggs

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 tablespoons sugar

2 cups Graham cracker crumbs

4 oz Cream cheese

Powdered sugar

Add powdered sugar to cream cheese and mix to desired sweetness. Spread over bread and top with thinly sliced bananas. Close the sandwiches. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs. On a separate plate, combine cinnamon, sugar, and graham crackers. Quickly dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture and transfer to graham cracker mix for an even coat throughout. Heat butter over medium heat and grill sandwiches until each side is crispy. Slice long ways and serve!

Tip: Do not allow children to taste until food is on the table, otherwise you may inadvertently trigger a stampede!

Crêpes for Breakfast!

Today for breakfast we treated the kids to crêpes stuffed with vanilla whipped cream. The only complaint? I should’ve made more! Here’s the recipe. If you plan ahead, it’s a breeze:

Whipped Cream Stuffed Crêpes

Crêpe batter: 1 cup flour – pinch of salt – 1 cup milk – tablespoon vegetable oil – dash of maple syrup – 1 egg

Whipped Cream: 2 quarts heavy cream – three heaping spoonfuls of powdered sugar – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients and mix. Consistency should be a little runny.  For whipped cream, combine ingredients and whisk until cream is thick enough to form stiff peaks. Store in the freezer while you return to the crêpes. Heat stainless steel pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. While pouring batter over pan, tilt the pan to spread the batter. The thinner the better. Promptly flip as crêpes will brown quickly. Stack completed crêpes on a single plate to retain heat. After all the crêpes are done, stuff them with the whipped cream & finish with maple syrup. Delicious!

Tip: Make lots of crêpes and store any extras in the freezer for later.

Extra Tip: Don’t inform your children about the extras, or else there won’t be any.

 

 

Fauxpaccino

Our morning coffee is our daily dose of sanity, no matter when we get to squeeze it in our day. And if I can’t have a real cappuccino, this is the next best thing:

Your favorite coffee + sweetened milk warmed for about 20 seconds in the microwaveThe AEROLATTE:

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*The best $15 you’ll ever spend.

Whisk the steamed milk, add your coffee, & sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!