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Sweet & Savory Pasta Salad

S&S PastaSalad

Everyone loves pasta salad, right? But I’m telling you, this one (which apparently came from a mistake) is my absolute favorite. I crave this more than any other pasta salad I’ve ever had. The ingredients are so unique that it gives it a sweet and savory flavor. But my mom swears she never made it the way I make it. She said her original recipe did NOT have green olives in it, but she can’t remember what it had instead. So I just make it like this. And since Memorial Day weekend is coming up, it’s about to be pasta salad season! Enjoy!

 

Ingredients
2 boxes of tri-colored pasta (cooked and drained)
2-3 cups of red seedless grapes (washed and loose)
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast (or pulled rotisserie chicken)
6 oz jar sliced salad olives drained (I know it’s weird, but I pitch all the pimentos)

Sauce
Hellman’s Light Mayo – 4-6 spatula dollops
2 Tbs or more Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp onion powder

Put first 4 ingredients in large bowl and chill
Whisk sauce ingredients together until it looks like salad dressing
Fold into pasta salad
Refrigerate 2-4 hours or overnight. The longer the better!

Grape Salad

grapesalad2

It was a few years ago when my sister told me she was bringing Grape Salad to the family reunion. I had never heard of such a thing! What is that? A salad with grapes in it? NO, it’s WAY more than that! It’s sweet and crunchy and oh so yummy! And it travels well, so that makes it super handy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz Cream cheese, softened (not fat free)
  • 8 oz Sour cream
  • ½ c Sugar
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 4 lbs Red & green seedless grapes
  • 1 c Brown Sugar
  • 1 c Pecans, chopped

Beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla together. Fold in seedless grapes, washed and dried. Top with brown sugar and pecans.

grapesalad

Brooke’s Broccoli Salad

Brooke’s Broccoli Salad

For some reason, I was craving this the other day, so I looked up a recipe. There were several. So I took my favorite parts of all of them and created this.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 7 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 8 slices bacon cooked and crumbled

Directions

  • Mix the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together in a small bowl for the dressing
  • Stir the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl
  • Fold in the dressing and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours
  • Serve cold

Ultra Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Ultra Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Ultra Crispy Smashed Potatoes

I’ve been hearing and seeing that everyone is making these lately, so I had to give them a try! And I’m glad I did! These are SO delicious. They’re extra crispy on the outside but nice and fluffy on the inside. These might be my new favorite way to make potatoes! (and being Irish, you know I LOVE me some potatoes!)

Ingredients

  • 12-14 small potatoes
  • 1 tbsp sea salt (for boiling)
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt (for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Finely chopped parsley, optional garnish

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, add 1 tbsp salt. Cook potatoes until soft – about 20 to 25 minutes. (It’s ok if the skin splits.)
  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Drain the potatoes and let them set in the colander for 5 minutes
  • Place on the pan and use a large fork or potato masher to smash them, trying to keep them in one piece. The thinner they are the crispier they will be!
  • Leave on the pan for another 5 minutes
  • Drizzle with melted butter, then olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until deep golden and crispy. Don’t flip!
  • Sprinkled with parsley if desired. (we dipped in sour cream!)
This recipe is why we have this tool that gets stuck in the drawer every time!

Easy Fruit Salad

Easy Fruit Salad

This is one of my favorite fruit salads! It’s so yummy and easy and very kid-friendly. It’s tart and sweet and you can really customize it depending on what fruits you want to use! Perfect side dish for Easter!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3oz box instant vanilla pudding
  • 20oz can pineapple tidbits in juice
  • 2 cups seedless grapes
  • 2 bananas (sliced and added just before serving)
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries

Mix everything together (including the juice from the can of pineapple) and chill at least 3 hours before serving. Make sure to add the bananas right before putting it on the table so they don’t get brown.

My Favorite Broccoli Cheese Soup

My Favorite Broccoli Cheese Soup

One of my favorite comfort foods is soup. And when it’s creamy and cheesy, even better! I like to get sourdough bread bowls to put this in…you can find them at some local bakeries! Top with a little shredded cheese and even your kiddos will gobble it up!

Ingredients

  •  ½ cup butter
  •  ½ cup flour
  •  6 cups chicken stock
  •  6 cups milk
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  1 tsp white pepper
  •  3-4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  •  1 pound processed cheese, shredded
  •  2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, and mix in the flour. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Mix in the chicken stock and milk, and season with salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the broccoli in the boiling water, and cook 2 minutes, or until just tender. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
  • Gradually mix the processed cheese and Cheddar cheese into the large pot until melted. Mix in the broccoli. Continue cooking about 5 minutes.

You Have My Heart Cookies

You Have My Heart Cookies

So I had this crazy thought, what if we took the Grinch Cookie recipe and left out the green food coloring? This is how those turned out. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1 Stick Butter, softened
  • 1 TBLS Oil
  • 2 Eggs, Room Temperature
  • ½ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ Cup Corn Starch
  • Red Heart Sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  3. Combine powdered sugar and corn starch in a small bowl
  4. Mix the butter, cake mix, oil and eggs together into a thick batter
  5. Using a small spoon or scoop, grab a glob of dough and roll it into the powdered
    sugar mixture
  6. Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart
  7. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until they get puffy
  8. Cool on the cookie sheet for several minutes
  9. Press the heart onto the dough before it gets cold
  10. Move to wire rack to finish cooling

Hawaiian Chicken Cups

Hawaiian Chicken Cups

When I saw these on a pin, I just HAD to make them. Not sure what everyone is bringing to your New Year’s or Game Day gatherings, but these are so different and delicious! Plus, they’re only 140 calories! WHAT?! Don’t delay! Make these today!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 4 TBS barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 TBS chives
  • 12 wonton wrappers (found in the produce section)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup reduced fat 2% shredded cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix chicken, pineapple, BBQ sauce, and chives in a medium bowl until well coated.
  • Lightly spray cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray and press a wonton wrapper into each cup
  • Spoon about a tablespoon of the chicken mixture evenly into the cups, and sprinkle with cheese
  • Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. Let the cups cool for 5 minutes before popping them out so they keep their shape.

Jar of Soup!

Italian Barley Soup Mix in a Jar

As we continue our month of JOY-uary, we found another way to spread a JAR of JOY! This is easy to make and can be a sweet gift for someone. Make a dozen of them to have on hand for someone recovering from surgery or just to brighten someone’s day! I added half a cup of corkscrew pasta because the jar wasn’t full. You could add more barley to fill it instead.

Italian Barley Soup Mix in a Jar

In a Jar, layer these ingredients in the order listed in a wide-mouthed pint jar:

  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 TBS dried chopped onions
  • 1 TBS dried minced garlic
  • 2 TBS dried basil
  • 1 TBS dried oregano
  • 1 TBS dried parsley flakes
  • ½ cup pasta to fill (optional)
  • 1 bouillon cube (I used beef, but you can use veggie)

Instructions for cooking the Italian Barley Soup from mix: Remove wrapper from bouillon cube and add it, plus all remaining ingredients, plus four cups of water and one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the barley is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve topped with grated Parmesan. Season to taste. If you want to take it up a notch, add a pound of fried crumbled ground beef.

Here’s a downloadable tag to attach to the jars.

Caramel Sauce

Just a few ingredients and you’ll have this decadent caramel sauce to put over ice cream and some to give away to a friend that needs some JOY! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream’
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Steps

  • In medium saucepan, heat corn syrup, brown sugar, butter and salt to boiling over low heat, stirring constantly.
  • Boil 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly
  • Stir in whipping cream and vanilla. Careful, it will bubble up! 
  • Heat to boiling and boil for 1 minute
  • Cool about 30 minutes
  • Serve warm
  • Pour gifts into jelly jars (this made 4)
  •  Reheat slightly before serving if desired

Festive Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels

Festive Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels

Maybe you’re not a baker, and that’s okay. You can still provide homemade holiday treats! These are simple and the kiddos will LOVE to help!

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Pretzel Rods
  • 12 oz Chocolate Chips, dark or white chocolate or Candy Melts
  • 1-2 TBS Shortening
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Microwave 2 cups of chocolate and shortening in a tall glass for 45 seconds. Stir. If necessary, microwave for additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted
  • Dip the pretzel rods into melted chocolate, tilting the glass to easily cover as much of the pretzel as you want. Use the side and rim of the glass to remove excess. Place on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sprinkles
  • Let set up. Store in an air-tight container.