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Greek Pasta Salad

It’s still August, Summer isn’t over yet! It’s still hotter n’ all get out around here in Southern Indiana, and in my mind, Summer isn’t over until the last cookout (aka Labor Day)! However, I don’t know about you, but we grill all year around here. Rain, sunshine, snow and sleet 😂. There’s a reason we had a covered deck built.  What we grill during those colder months are different than what we grill in the warmer months though. There aren’t any hamburgers, or ribs, or corn on the cob, or noodle salads. Usually, we are grilling things like steak and pork chops, and the grilling is a lot rare of an occurrence than in the warmer months too.

For now though, it’s still Summer! So lets get the barbecue on, because I’ve got a wonderful pasta salad to go with whatever you are grilling, and it makes a lot so it’s perfect for a cookout with friends and family. What’s better than hanging out friends and family and sharing awesome food?! Nothing, that’s what.

Before I show you how to make this lovely, easy, and so flavorful salad, a big thanks goes out to Katya over at Little Broken for the amazing Greek Vinaigrette that I use in this salad.

You want to start by getting a big pot of water to a boil, and then adding your pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and then drain and run under cold water to cool. While that’s going on, you can prep your veggies.

Once you have everything chopped up, toss your veggies, olives and feta together in a very large bowl.  Add the cooled, cooked pasta, and toss together.

Then make a batch of the dressing, which consists of olive oil, red wine vinegar, pressed garlic, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour that over the salad, and toss to coat completely. It is now ready for the fridge. Cover your salad and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Because pasta likes to soak up dressings like this one while it sits, I make a second batch of the dressing and have it ready in the fridge. Then when it comes time to serve, I pour my reserved dressing over the salad, and toss again to coat. Delicious!

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Greek Pasta Salad Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Salads
Cuisine Greek
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Cuisine Greek
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water to cool; set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prep vegetables. Toss onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives and feta together in a very large bowl. Add cooked pasta, toss together and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over pasta mixture, and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate salad for at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. In another bowl, or a mason jar, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients again. Whisk to combine well, or put lid on jar and shake to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve the salad. Just before serving, shake or whisk reserved dressing, and pour over pasta salad. Toss to coat, and serve.
Recipe Notes

I make a reserved batch of the vinaigrette, because the pasta tends to soak up a lot of the dressing as it sits. Adding additional dressing before serving will make sure your salad isn't dry, and of course bring extra fresh flavor.

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The Mama’s Ultimate Pizza

Pizza  night. Do any of you have one night a week that’s pizza night? We do around here not just because we love pizza, but because at least once a week we need something speedy. Pizza is a very quick dinner to make. Especially if you simplify things and buy the dough in the refrigerated section of the store. Super easy. Just roll it out, press to fit, and top it with whatever you like.

Here’s one of they ways this mama likes to do pizza. We call this The Mama’s Ultimate Pizza.

First I take out my baking sheet and line it with foil for easy clean up. I really hate doing dishes. Then I spray that lightly with some cooking spray. Then pop your dough out of the can, and starting in the middle of the pan, unroll the dough, and press it and spread it to fit as best you can. See mine, doesn’t have to fit perfectly. It’ll be ok, I promise. Now to ensure that the dough is cooked completely when the entire pizza is done, I slip this into the oven at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes, just to partially cook the crust. You don’t want to cook it completely through at this point. Just give it a little head start. Then set that aside.

Now I prepare my toppings. I brown up some ground Italian sausage. You can go hot or mild on this. I prefer the mild. Don’t forget to drain it.

Then I chop up my bell peppers. I like to use two different colors here just to make it pop. I love the brightness of the red and yellow, but you can choose any bell peppers you want, whatever colors you want. I also had the hubster slice up some red onion. He never cries when he cuts onions. He says “the idea is to not develop an emotional attachment.”  😂

And because we love meat so much, I sliced up some smoked sausage. We also added sliced pepperoni, which was already sliced, and some sliced black olives, neither of which are pictured, and again, those were already sliced. Notice I’m using cheapy paper plates to put my prepped toppings on? Did I mention I hate doing dishes? 🙃

Now the fun part! The layers! Slather on as much or as little sauce as you want, I used store bought pizza sauce. Then some pizza blend cheese, which came already shredded. (Gee, ready made dough, pre-sliced olives, pre-sliced pepperoni, ready sauce and pre-shredded cheese. This recipe was half done before I even got started! SCORE!) A little note about the amount of cheese used, in the written recipe, I was trying to be reasonable on the measurements. Honestly, use as little or as much as you want. Obviously I did! Then I spread on my meats and veggies, and then cover that in more cheese. Sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the top (that was my mom’s idea. Thanks mom!).  Now it’s ready for the oven.

Just look at that slice of happiness! Definitely need a fork for this, but totally worth it! I hope you try it, and enjoy!

 

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The Mama's Ultimate Pizza Yum
Recipe by: Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Starting at the center of the baking sheet, unroll dough, pressing it out to fit baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes just to partially bake the crust.
  3. Spread sauce over crust; top with 1 cup of the cheese. Top cheese with meats, olives, onion and bell peppers. Top with remaining 1 cup of the cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  4. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is a crisp deep golden brown, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Recipe Notes

For a spicier version, use spicy Italian sausage, and sprinkle the pizza sauce with some crushed red pepper.

Use as much cheese as you like! If you like cheese as much as we do, you'll likely want to use more than 2 cups.

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Delicious Ranch Potato Salad

The weather here is just perfect. A beautiful 78 degrees which is perfect for me! Not too hot, not too cold. It’s wonderful, and it’s got me wanting to gather up the clan, and go to a park for a picnic. I don’t know about you, but I love picnics. Ever since I was a kid, my favorite picnic food was potato salad. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t have a picnic without potato salad! It just wouldn’t be right. It also wouldn’t be right to make the same old potato salad over and over again either. I don’t know about you folks, but I like variety. I get bored with the same ol’ thing.

So lets switch it up! I’ve created this Delicious Ranch Potato Salad, and I served it at a potluck cookout very recently. It was a huge hit with my family and friends, and I know it will be with you and your family too. Like most potato salads, this one is super easy. You can even make it a day ahead of time.

First you want to get your potatoes cut up and into the pot of salted water, get that boiling. While those are cooking, take the rest of your ingredients and combine them in a large bowl. I like to use my giant Pyrex glass bowl for almost all of my salads. I like the extra tossing room.

Once your potatoes have cooked and are fork tender, which will only take about 8-12 minutes, you’ll want to drain them well. Then add them to your dressing mixture in your giant bowl. Toss it all together, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. I use red potatoes in this recipe. I prefer to use a waxy potato in potato salads like red potatoes, fingerling potatoes are new potatoes. The waxy potatoes hold up much better, where as starchy ones like russet potatoes tend to fall apart too easily, and turn your salad into mush. Ew…

 

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Delicious Ranch Potato Salad Yum
Recipe by: Christine Titus
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Clean and cut potatoes into chunks, then place in a large pot with salted water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to keep it at a gentle boil and let cook until potatoes are fork tender,, about 8-12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Once potatoes are done, drain well, and add to the dressing mixture and toss to thoroughly combine all ingredients. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to let flavors mingle and chill.
Recipe Notes

You can make this salad a day ahead of time, just keep covered in the refrigerator. Light ranch dressing may be substituted for regular to save a few calories.

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Creamy Tomato & Cucumber Salad

You know what I love about Spring and Summer? The beautiful salads! I absolutely love salads, and this time of year, you get the best and prettiest produce to work with. Pretty bright colors, whether it’s a fruit salad or a vegetable salad, or even a pasta salad. They are just so bright and fresh. Lots of eye appeal, not like my photos… 😉

I bring to you today, a Creamy Tomato & Cucumber Salad. It’s bright, it’s fresh, and it’s delish! Oh let us not forget it’s super easy! Another cool thing about salads, they can usually be made ahead of time. This is all of that! So lets get started. Gather up all your ingredients, which isn’t much, and pay no attention to the only two cloves of garlic on that cutting board! I actually did use 4.

So you got everything? Good, now prepare your vegetables, minus the garlic, and toss them into a big bowl.

Now, just set that aside for a minute, and grab a smaller bowl. In that, you’re going to toss in your dressing ingredients. Mayo, sour cream, garlic and freshly cracked black pepper.

Whisk that up until it’s thoroughly combined, and then, dump it on top of your veggies in the big bowl, and gently toss to coat.

Now you just cover it tightly, and store it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let all those flavors blend. Then just before servings, sprinkle with a little sea salt to taste and enjoy!

 

Print Recipe
Creamy Tomato & Cucumber Salad Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and toss into a large bowl. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut each half again lengthwise, to give you 4 long sticks. Slice those into bite size chunks and toss those into the bowl. Alternatively, you can slice the cucumber thinly, and then cut the slices in half. However you do it, you just need bite size pieces. Slice the red onion into thin slices and add to the tomatoes and cucumbers.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, pressed garlic cloves and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Pour dressing onto vegetables, and toss gently to coat. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to let the flavors blend. Add salt to taste just before serving.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from natashaskitchen.com

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To The Rescue Chicken Quesadillas

Interesting name for quesadillas isn’t it? Let me try to explain. There are two reasons why this name is appropriate. The first, is because I always have these ingredients on hand. So if I have a hectic day, or maybe I messed up real bad in the kitchen trying to create something and it just didn’t work out, and now I have hungry kids staring at me like I’m dinner. Or maybe money is really really tight and I need something very cheap to fix. This recipe comes in handy!

The second reason, is, well, this last Wednesday rolled around I was really starting to feel under the weather. Each one of my kids have been sick the prior week, and you know what happens when you take care of sick kids. No matter how much you wash your hands, you’re gonna get what they got. I swear I need a hazmat suit. Thankfully I was able to get my Wine Pairing Wednesday post up, but after that ran out of steam. That’s ok, because there was a ton of leftovers in the fridge! Yay! That was fine for Wednesday, but Thursday was worse! I ended up with a fever, every time I tried to get out of bed to do something, I just felt worse. My husband is working some late nights, and my kids are hungry! Well that’s ok! Reason #2 why these quesadillas come to the rescue! This is something my kids can build themselves, and make themselves. If they can put a pizza in and out of the oven, they can put a quesadilla in and out of the oven. All I had to do was supervise.

Just layer on your favorite fillings, top it with another tortilla and pop that sucker in the oven. I love doing quesadillas in the oven. It doesn’t require any flipping, and as big as these are, I wouldn’t want to bother with the hassle. Plus, my 10 and 11 year old kiddos are good with the oven. So keeping it simple here. They just like chicken and cheese in theirs. Hubster likes his with onion, cilantro and jalapenos if we have them. I like mine with cilantro and bell peppers. You don’t have to use chicken. Use whatever meat you have available or like best. We’ve done this with left over turkey, as well as left over steak. They’re all yummy!

 

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To The Rescue Chicken Quesadillas Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.
  3. Lay one tortilla on the baking sheet, and sprinkle with a layer of cheese. Then top the cheese with a layer of chicken, then onion if using, and then cilantro if using. Top with one more thin layer of cheese to hold it all together, then top with the other tortilla.
  4. Lightly spray the top of the quesadilla with cooking spray.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Check it at 5 minutes. Your quesadilla is done when it is golden brown and crispy.
  6. Serve with your favorite sauce.
Recipe Notes
  • If I don't already have cooked chicken in my freezer, which I try to keep some on hand, I will get a bag of fully cooked grilled chicken from the freezer section of the grocery store, and let it thaw before using.
  • You can substitute the chicken for turkey or beef if you wish. We have done all three and they all turn out great!
  • A sauce I like to use on my quesadillas (also on taquitos) is really simple. Just equal parts sour cream and salsa. Mix together, and you have a delicious zippy sauce.
  • Feel free to add whatever you like on your quesadillas like jalapenos, bell peppers, the options are endless.
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