easy–peasy pasta salad 

first of all, thank you for your kind words and messages yesterday ☺️

tis the season for cookouts, barbecues ( <—–did I ever mention that I don’t like that word?  I lost my 5th grade spelling bee to this word.  There is not a ‘Q’ in barbecue)
Le sigh…  
Anyway.. where you find cookouts, you find fun side dishes!  Our family always had a slaw, potato salad, detox salad or pasta salad in the fridge this time of year. 

A favorite is my Mom’s pasta salad. Nothing fancy, just amazing. 

Recently I made this version of a pasta salad..   And while it can be tweaked to whomever is eating it, this is how I did it.  I have a lot of readers who are adjusting to cooking on their own. I’m going to try to share some easy, inexpensive ideas for y’all. 
This came out a bit on the spicy side. But we love heat around here.  I’ll put the non spicy version in parentheses.

Vinegarette-based pasta salad 

1 pound pasta of choice (we love farafalle for this) 

Sea salt

1 /2 red onion chopped 

1/2 cup pepperoni, quartered 

1/2 block pepperjack cheese ( use Monterey Jack or cheddar for less spice) chopped 

Cherry tomatoes *see tip below for easy cutting *

1/4 cup chopped olives

1/4 cup pepperincinis,sliced 

1/3-1/2 cup of premade Italian dressing ( I like Newman’s for this, use what you like)

1/4 cup herbed feta ( not pictured) 

Broccoli florets go great in this but I didn’t have any

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sea salt. Cook pasta according to box and drain ( don’t rinse) 

Add about a tablespoon of dressing to warm pasta and toss.  Let come to room temp, tossing every once in awhile.

Add toppings

Then top with dressing and toss!

If using the red pepper flakes, sprinkle a few on top. 
I made this last week and my family devoured it. It’s so simple, yet so tasty.  It has just the right mixture of texture and flavor 
Some more of our family favorite side dishes 

Blistered tomato salad with feta and arugula 

 Spinach fennel salad with blood orange and arugula

Prosciutto cantaloupe salad

***. Easy way to halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes. ***

Take 2 deli- style lids 
Lay tomatoes single file on one lid 

Top with other lid upside down 

Use a serrated knife.  Apply gentle pressure to top lid and slowly cut between the 2 lids 

Bada bing!

The hubs and I have been playing words with friends again.  He’s terribly competitive 🙄. And I never win a match with him 😂😂😂
Anyone else have super competitive family members???

Off to hear about him winning again..

Until next time…
Ciao bellas!


creamy citrus-hemp dressing

happy new year, y’all!  How’s 2016 treating you so far? Any resolutions? Made? Broken? Accomplished? 

Here’s mine

1- find a way to take in the arts about once a month. This can be anything from a play, to a museum, to a concert 😉😉😉

2-read a book a month.  ( die hard may disagree, but I’m including listening to audio books as well.  I’m current,y listening to Carly Simon’s ‘boys in the trees’. It’s her memoir and she is narrating it.  I’ve always been a huge Carly fan, but I have to say, listening to this has made me borderline obsessed. ) 

3-bullseye every damn day <—  failing epically at this so far 

Those are the ones I can  tell you about 😁😁😁

Sooo… My cousin was chatting about hemp seeds this morning on her Facebook page.  I mentioned a dressing that I used to make using hemp seeds as the base.  I went to find it on the blog and couldn’t.  So.. I threw a couple of ingredients together.

creamy citrus-hemp dressing  


1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/2 shallot, roughly diced

2 clementines, peeled (you could sub approximate amount of other citrus if the spirit moves you) 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and pepper 

Place hemp seeds and citrus In high -powered blender ( those single serving ninja-type shake makers will work too ) 

Pulse a few times to blend. Slowly add olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

That’s it, folks! 


This is crazy delisious. At first you get the sweetness from the clementine, then the creaminess from the hempseeds and the tang from the shallot.  It marries perfectly with greens.  I used baby spinach 


This dressing is also super- healthy! It’s loaded with vitamin C, protein and omega-3 fatty acids ( helps prevent heart disease and reduce inflammation) annnnnd… Since it’s made with all plant-based ingredients, it’s cholesterol-free!  And no guilt! 

Keep working on those resolutions,friends 😘


blistered tomato salad with feta and arugula 

last night I busted out my favorite skewers.  



They are flexible! 

I also have a set of straight skewers, so dug those out 

I am lucky enough to be able to grill all year ..  But there is something extra special about grilling on a warm summers’ night. ( well, summer-like) 

 This recipe is uber simple..  But sometimes simple is simply fantastic. 



blistered tomatoes with feta and arugula 

bunch of cherry tomatoes

Handful of basil

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Drizzle of balsamic vinegar 

A few handfuls of arugula 

Slivered almonds for garnish 

Sea salt * I’m currently obsessed with smoked sea salt *


Skewer tomatoes and place over medium coals ( alternatively you could us a grill pan or place under broiler watching carefully so that they don’t burn

Grill for 2 minutes, then rotate.  Repeat this until the skins blister 


 Sprinkle feta on a bed of arugula.  While tomatoes are still hot, scatter over feta. ( the heat starts to melt the feta and makes the texture ah-maz-ing! 

Drizzle balsamic and olive oil atop salad, sprinkle with slivered almonds and sea salt.

Toss and serve! I literally devoured this salad! I might make it again tonight! 


And a repeat of this 💞

What’s on your grill this weekend? 


my mom’s pasta salad 

so apparently it’s spring,  although here in Denver you wouldn’t have known it this past mothers’ day. 


Seriously.   It was pretty awesome! 


Because I got to make a snow lady! 

Today I’m sharing what is pretty much a basic pasta salad.  My mom made this growing up all the time.  Now I do! We pretty much always have a bowl of this in the fridge from spring to summer. 


mom’s pasta salad 

1 box of small macaroni ( shells, elbows, etc) 

2 celery stalks, chopped 

2 carrots, peeled and chopped 

1/2 red onion, chopped 

Hellman’s mayonnaise ( anywhere from 1/2 cup-1cup) 

***Powdered garlic ( 1/2tsp minimum, more if you really like garlic) 

Sea salt and pepper. 

Cook pasta in salted water, just until tender.   Drain ( don’t rinse). While hot sprinkle  with salt, pepper and garlic . Let cool . 

Mix all ingredients together. 


And that’s it! Season woth salt and pepper!

When my daughter’s friends come over they eat this like candy. 

My niece  once stole the bowl off the counter and I had to chase her! 

she and my daughter actually sat in my oversized tub ( empty tub ) with the bowl and two spoons. 

I couldn’t make this up if I tried! 

*** I once made an incredibly over garlic dip…  It was insane.   Ever since then Scott claims I tried to kill him with garlic…  So I tend to use less garlic than most.  Season to your own family’s tastes!

I have a few other pasta salad recipes, but this one here…. It’s the family favorite! 


spinach fennel salad with blood orange and herbed gouda

spring has sprung! And with spring, we have spring veggies popping up everywhere! 

( my local farmers’ market starts up again this Saturday and I’m giddy with excitement! ) 

Today’s dish is a combo of sweet and savory, crunchy and tart. 

Spinach fennel salad with blood orange and herbed Gouda 

1 fennel bulb

1 small blood orange 

Small handful of pecans 

Small block of Gouda cheese ( I found one with cinnamon notes, use what you like ) , chopped 

Handful of baby spinach 

Extra virgin olive oil ( for the dressing ) 


Start by cutting top of of fennel bulb, reserving some frawns for garnish.  Cut bulb in half, remove outer tough leaves and cut a V in the base to remove tough bulb 


Slice thinly. 

Using a grater, grate some on the orange zest and place in small jar for dressing.  Juice half of the orange into the same jar. Add equal amount of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Place top on jar and set aside until ready to serve. 

Toast pecans in dry skillet over medium heat, watching carefully so that they don’t burn. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.

Peek skin off of remaining blood orange half and separate into sections. 

Start by adding spinach to a serving bowl and surround the edges woth the slivered fennel. 

Scatter orange wedges, cheese, and nuts on top. Sprinkle frawns on top. 


When ready to serve, shake dressing in jar, drizzle atop salad and toss to serve! 

I’m looking forward to many fun salads this season ! 


More salad recipes

Sweet pea salad with goat cheese 

 Strawberry- balsamic chicken salad

Roasted beet and goat cheese salad

Prosciutto cantelope salad with mint  


creamy buttermilk lemon-herb dressing

Yes. You heard me correctly.

Last night I had a couple of friends over to carve pumpkin ( yup… It’s not just for kids 😉)

I take any advantage to make PIZZA. Even if it’s Thursday night,not Friday.

( the pup was uber happy to get pizza crust a day early )

Since I thought we should be all healthy ‘n stuff, I thought a salad was appropriate. Then I thought buttermilk dressing. And I was off!


You’ll need

1/2 cup buttermilk ( sounds unhealthy… It’s actually low in fat )
2 TBSP Light mayo
2 TBSP creme freche or sour cream
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 TBSP olive oil
Chives, chopped ( I used a small bunch )
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt to taste

Add it all to a small mason jar ( heads up, there are measuring marks on the glass, so this is truly a one dish thing to make )


Put the lid on and shake


Taste for salt and pepper and enjoy!

Take that store-bought






mock~tails, home made fruit vinegars annnd..

Spaghetti squash casserole.



After help from my friends and family on facebook, I think that I’ve fixed the issue. Now I’m sure some of you are downright sick of hearing about it ( I’m kinda getting sick of typing it) but I still feel the need to share that post in its’ entirety, so we will start with that.


( feel free to skip if you just can’t bear to have your eyes view it again~ it’s ok, I’ll still love you. Like lots. )


friends. If you are connected with me on my  facebook page , then you’ve had a sneak peak at what’s cooking in my kitchen

Get yerself a sketti squash, because trust me, you will want to make this!

I mentioned in my massaged kale salad post how I am obsessed with True food kitchen

I’ve eaten here many times and have tried many things on the menu. ALL fabulous.

Twice now, I’ve had friends order the spaghetti squash casserole, and both have raved about how good it was.

( truth be told, both friends offered me a bite, of which I accepted  and wow! I just knew I had to make it at home)

I did a little research * puffy heart google* and voila! found the recipe!

click the link for complete recipe

Dr Andrew Weil, Spaghetti Squash casserole


1 spaghetti squash
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground allspice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 pound part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheesenow since I’m home with a healing pup, I had to improvise the recipe just a littleI did not have the peppers, but I did find a sad little jalapeno in my crisper drawer, and we like it hot 😉 so I used that in place of the red and yellow peppers.

spaghetti squash casserole ingredients

Start by cooking the squash. The recipe says to add entire squash into a big pot of water, bring to a boil for 50 minutes.


check on pup 

Now, I usually cook squash in the oven but I was intrigued to try this method. So I did.

My only comment would be that cooking it in the oven it was easier to separate the seeds from the flesh, but over, I would cook the squash either way.

while the squash is cooking ( whichever way your little heart desired) Chop up your veggies

Add a small amount of olive oil to a pan ( I’m a die hard believer in cast iron.. I’ll explain why if ya wants to know 😉  )


add the onions and carrots to hot oil, season with a bit of salt and cook for 5 min


check on pup 

next, I  added the the pepper and celery with a dash of red pepper flakes

squash filling

allow to saute for about 10 minutes, until veggies were soft. Taste for salt, if it needs a little more, go ahead and knock your self out 😉

* I kept adding little bits of water throughout so that the veggies didn’t dry out and stick while softening.. maybe 2 tablespoons at a time each time I stirred it ? )


check on pup 

The recipe called to squeeze the garlic in, but I rid myself of my garlic press years ago, as it only had that one purpose, and its easy enough to smash garlic with the side of a chef’s knife. garlic smash

f you have a press, by all means use it

add the crushed tomatoes m sprinkle of allspice (the secret ingredient, we discovered) , the garlic.

now you may have noticed the dish of roasted tomatoes.  I had some maters that were to ripe to eat raw, so I roasted them like I did when I made my

roasted garlic and tomato soup



squash filling

I  added these sweet babies  in addition to the crushed tomatoes

I also added a sprig of rosemary.

I hate to follow directions 😉

spaghetti squash


and btw~ this smelled heavenly 

Next I used a pair of tongs to remove squash from boiling water ( CAREFULLY) and place on a cutting board until cool enough to cut


scoop out seeds ( if you cooked it in the oven, you’ve already done this. great job, you overachiever, you  😉 )


spaghetti squash filling



add to tomato mixture and stir


check on pup 

Now full disclosure… since I was cooking this for just Scott and myself, I spooned out half of the tomato mixture and reserved for another recipe ( veggie chili, perhaps? ) and only used half of the spaghetti squash itself.   Had I known I could have halved the recipe, but being my first time making it, I wasn’t thinking.


spaghetti squash filling



I mean just look at this! Incredible.


next, layer 1/2  the squash mixture in baking dishes , add 1/2 the cheese, the rest of the squash mixture, and top with remaining cheese



baked spaghetti squash


guess which one was mine 😉


As far as the cheese goes, I used shredded because I had it and on Sunday when I played around with

smoked tofu crumbles, I smoked a few mozzarella balls as well ( just curious how it would come out) so I cut those up and topped  our dishes with a bit of that crazy cheese flavor.

I baked it in a 350 over for about 20 minutes, topped with shredded basil and a tiny drizzle of olive oil


Baked Spaghetti Squash


do I have your attention yet?


baked Spaghetti squash


yeeeeeaaah…  this was pretty awesome.  and healthy? CRAZY healthy!

If you would like to make this vegan, substitute Daiya cheese. simple!

My friend, Cindy stopped by yesterday to visit with me and brought me lunch. From where? True food of course!

I had the edamame dumplings and they were incredible. Together we disected the taste and came up with what we think would be a good recipe.


I have my next challenge!


true food edamame dumplings


Thank you, Cindy, for lunch and the company 😉

My next immediate project is making puppy ice cream or peanut butter biscuits  With all of the treats I’ve been given Fen, I’m starting to run low and need to last until the weekend when Scott is home


healing Fenway



my sweet girl ❤



al’ight….  since I’ve spent 46,000 hours writing,losing,finding,re~losing, re~ finding,fixing and re~ posting this…. you just might wanna make this… and let me know 🙂


ok. next. While I was hanging out with my sweet pup this week, I watched a lot of Food Network I came across a show that was focusing on Mocktails… you know, cocktails sans alcohol.


Kelsey Nixon made blackberry sipping vinegar to use as a base for a mocktail recipe.

I was curious, so I used the base/ idea of her recipe to make Strawberry~basil vinegar.

( because that is what I had in~ house ..


strawberry~basil vinegar

start by using equal parts fruit-sugar. I used a cup of each and added shredded basil


mash fruit and sugar up well and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate ( I love re- using rubber bands from veggies all over the kitchen 😉 ) for 2 days , stirring occasionally

On day 3, add equal amount ( 1 cup )  of apple cider vinegar ( I swear by Bragg’s.. highly worth the extra buck or two ) and stir.

The next day, using a fine~ mesh strainer, strain all solids out, using a flexible spatula  to press out every last bit of liquid ( you do NOT want to waste any )


strawberry- basil vinegar

to make your life easier ( because let’s face it, it’s all about you 😉 ) strain it into a dish or measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring.

Pour into a jar and store in fridge!


( I have a batch with Meyer lemons in the fridge now. I’ll let you know how it comes out )


strawberry-basil vinegar

I made a mocktail by pouring about an ounce of the vinegar over some ice, topping with sparkling water and a wedge of lime.


strawberry-basil mocktail


There is something about the vinegar that really elevates this drink., It feels like a special drink

In the show, Kelsey used an infused tea as well ( click the link up there for complete recipe) but I’m a simple girl and this drink suited me just fine.

So for my friends out there who don’t drink alcohol, for one reason or another, here’s a new option for you!


It is also a Crazy- delicious base for a salad dressing..  more on that tomorrow.


On another note, my PT is going well. Really well. my PT recommended that I get a theraputtic massage to break up some of the scar tissue in my hamstring from the tears. ( not my torn ACL leg that i just had surgically fixed, the OTHER leg that went into crazy hyper horrificness thanks to being on crutches post- surgery

The massage therapist ( This was NOT a relaxing massage AT ALL, btw) worked on my hips, glutes, ( where one of the tears are) and then she moved to my back.

She discovered that I have a muscle along my spine ( not the spine itself) that is all twisted up and is sending pain signals down my leg.

After 60 minutes with her, I noticed a difference ( the next day)

I was shocked to realize halfway through the day that I wasn’t struggling while doing simple things like just walking 

So my PT is also working on this and is having me start some strength training , lots of squats, single-leg squats and lunges of all angles.

and I’m feeling good for the first time in a LONG time.

I asked Matt ( PT) about possibly training for a 5k. He said he’ll let me start jogging ( under his supervision) on the treadmill in 2 weeks.

He humbling shared with me that he came in in the top 20 of the Boston Marathon last year. Not percentage, but overall.

I’m uber- impressed.

Friday I made a last minute descison to sign up for an Earth- Month 5k around the corner from my house. ( with his approval)

I went into this knowing that walking was the only option and that my time would not matter.

I had 2 friends who signed up with me.

we finished dead last, but that didn’t matter. We did it.

I had my first benchmark for races here in Colorado and the only thing that I can expect from here is to get better and move forward..

I’m ready

Aveda earth day race

I hope that your weekend was fabulous!



roasted beet and goat cheese salad

friends, I was having a bad day today.

some days are just like that

But I had a great conversation with a couple of friends, and a nice text from an old friend that I haven’t chatted with in awhile, and just like that… I’m feeling better 🙂

and that brings me back into the kitchen. ( barefoot, of course 😉 ) to make this salad for you. IMG_0577

look intimidating? I promise you, it isn’t. In fact it’s quite simple.


you’ll need

2 beets ( red or yellow, I used one of each)

1 tsp olive oil

2 ounces of goat cheese

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 red onion

1/4 cup cashews

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

fresh thyme sprigs

I was inspired to make this after we went to the Farmers’ market and found a bunch of beets that had both the yellow and red in it


( I’m still in shock that I can walk to the market from my front door)

start by roasting your beets  ( you can do this a day ahead of time)

cut the greens off of the beets and wash the bulb under cold water to remove any excess dirt. dry.

add  each beet to a piece of aluminum foil , drizzle with olive oil and wrap up like a Hershey’s kiss

* just like we did when we roasted the onions *


*** side note… as you may have noticed I use a lot of foil ‘ packets’ especially when I’m grilling which is like every day these days.  I used foils from the beauty supply store. ( the kind used to highlight hair).. they are pre cut and make the perfect size for packet making.  One box will last you years, I promise 😉 ***

roast the beets either in a 375 oven or on the grill for about 20-30 minutes or until tender ( the smaller the beet, the faster they will cook.)

remove from heat and cool.

once the beets are roasted, the skin will pretty much slip right off of the beet without skipping a beat 😉

HA! I made a funny!

* dead silence*

Ok.. I’m a 7 year old at heart.

annnyhow… have a bowl of soapy water handy, of using red beets your hands will get red.

meanwhile, slice red onion very thinly and place in a small bowl and pour red wine vinegar over. toss to coat and let the onions marinate.

chop the cashews ( I would have liked to use pistachios, but didn’t have them.. thus the cashews)

roast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant and beginning to toast

next, slice the goat cheese. ( slice the cheese before you slice the beets, because your cutting board will get as red as your hands 🙂

next, assemble salad.

I arrange it in a semi- circle ‘ cause I wanted to make it all purty.

in this order


goat cheese slice


goat cheese slice


remove onions form vinegar and place alongside.

add balsamic vinegar to a small sauce pan and heat until reduced by half & it should thicken.

drizzle over beets and cheese and top with cashews



see.. wasn’t that easy?

I wanted to share this picture just for fun


thanks for reading!

click for some more salads!

spinach salad & dressing tutorial

prosciutto- cantelope salad

massaged kale salad

grilled watermelon salad


massaged kale salad

massaged kale salad


click link for recipe


summer cucumber salad

summer cucumber salad


click link for recipe 🙂

%d bloggers like this: