Easy Party Pasta Salad

pasta salad

It’s happened to everyone – it’s a beautiful day, you’re enjoying the weather with friends or family, and suddenly you come down from your NYC rooftop or in from your favorite beach and you’re at your place with a hungry crowd. This pasta salad has saved me from that desperate situation MANY times, and I’m excited to share this quick party trick with you.

Pasta salad could not be an easier way to host on the fly, and you probably already have most of the materials in your pantry. Plus, it’s easy to substitute gluten free pasta (my favorite is Banza chick pea penne, which adds some extra protein) to accommodate for dietary restrictions.

Simply: boil 1 box of pasta, rinse with cold water. While the pasta is boiling, add 1 chopped cucumber, 2 chopped peppers (any color), and 1/2 chopped onion. We have this awesome Ninja chopper my mom got me for Christmas a couple of years ago and it has taken years of food prep off my life. Top with some salt and 3/4 bottle of Wishbone Italian Dressing and you’re done!

This recipe is also easy to make ahead – just hold off on the dressing until you’re about to serve the dish, and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil per box of pasta to keep it moist. Refrigerate covered.

I like to serve this pasta salad as a spring and summer staple, alongside anything you can cook up on the grill. It’s a hit!

 

cropped-profile_picture_symbol

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Gluten Free – Sweet Potato Gnocchi

gnocchi

Coming from an Italian family, it’s been hard to make a full switch to the gluten free life. The struggle applies particularly to gnocchi – one of my favorite Italian dishes ever and one of the only dishes I’ll ever order at an Italian restaurant. (On principle, I don’t love going to Italian restaurants because I can make most of the dishes at home – gnocchi being a strong exception because it’s so labor intensive and so hard to nail. For those of you in the Providence, RI area, you’ll understand – especially if you’ve ever had the gnocchi from Siena.)

Anyway, I stumbled across a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi on one of my favorite food blogs, Pinch of Yum. If I was going to have to quit real carbs, I thought I’d try making one of my favorite dishes the GF way – with sweet potatoes. Plus, it fits in really well with Mike’s low-carb diet.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Continue reading

Yummy Breakfast Acai Bowls

img_1031

Acai bowls – basically smoothies on crack. These yummy bowls make a great breakfast – so long as you monitor how much sugar you’re taking in! (Spoiler alert- the bowl in this picture is super sugary, so it’s great 30-45 minutes after a morning workout.)

To serve 2-3 adults for a healthy breakfast, blend 3 packets of Sambazon Acai (you can find this at Whole Foods), 1 banana (frozen or fresh), 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 2 cups of coconut milk, and 2-3 scoops of protein powder. The protein powder is key, especially if you’re watching your diet – the extra protein will make this bowl much more filling.

To turn it into a smoothie you can grab for your drive to work, just add a bit more coconut milk and a few ice cubes.

Top the bowls with whatever you desire! Granola is a great topping to make the bowls more filling. Try making my Homemade Granola Recipe for a gluten free granola option. I like to add a tablespoon of peanut butter and a drizzle of honey, and often I add coconut flakes.

Acai bowls & smoothies are a yummy, filling breakfast that will boost your protein intake for the day. Enjoy!

 

Acai Bowls

Print & Share Breakfast Acai Bowl Recipe

 

cropped-profile_picture_symbol
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

Gluten Free Homemade Granola

I first became obsessed with cooking and trying new recipes in high school. At the time, eating organic was becoming wildly popular, and I was becoming more health (and body) conscious.

In my house, we’d been eating fresh fruits and veggies from the garden since we were kids. Our dinners were well-balanced, and our breakfasts were well-rounded, but as an Italian household, everything was heavy in carbs. I still remember my breakfast every morning – an everything bagel with butter, plus 1/2 a grapefruit with sugar.

I became interested in cutting white carbs that year, and discovered granola. That same year, a local runner published a granola recipe in our town newspaper, The Westerly Sun, and I was immediately intrigued. My mom and I made it that weekend, and it was a hit. Over the years, I’ve edited and tweaked this recipe to granola perfection.

The long list of ingredients looks intimidating, but it’s a lot simpler than it looks. I usually try to reign in a helper to shell the pistachios with me, or knock out this task first, since it’s the longest step!

img_4936

This is my favorite mix, but you can add, subtract, and mix up as you see fit. Sometimes, I like to substitute chia seeds for flax seed, or add some walnuts or chocolate.

img_4938

Honestly, the bowl of nuts looks good enough to eat on its own. I like to mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the rest in a larger bowl, then add together. It makes the mixture much easier to mix.

img_4939

It’s important to stir the granola on the sheet every 5-7 minutes while it’s baking so that it doesn’t burn! I have 30-35 minutes listed in the recipe, but on a darker sheet or with a thinner layer of granola, it could be only 25. The granola will be crispy and golden when it’s done, and after cooling for 3-4 minutes, will form clumps.

img_4940

Look how much granola this recipe makes! This usually lasts me for a meal a day for 2 weeks – especially if I end up mixing it into yogurt for breakfast or lunch.

img_4945

Gluten Free Homemade Granola
Scroll down for a shareable recipe card!

6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flax seed (wheat germ if you’re not gluten free)
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups raisins
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup pistachio meats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients except dried fruits in a large bowl until well coated.

Use cooking spray to coat 2 cookie sheets. Spread half the granola on each sheet.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, lightly stirring every 5-7 minutes, until crispy. Switch the sheets from top to bottom rack and vice versa for even cooking. Let stand to cool.

Add raisins and dried cranberries, and store in airtight containers.

granola

Shareable gluten free granola recipe card

 

cropped-profile_picture_symbol

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

My Summer Checklist

I may have mentioned this before, but I’ve never taken time off.

I’ve had a job since I was legally able to work – at 14, I hauled chairs and umbrellas at a beach club every summer; by the time I was 21 I had worked my way up to a senior waitress position. Two weeks after graduating college, I moved to NYC, and I’ve not stopped working since.

So, for the first time in 14 years, I took a summer break! After my big intro grad class ended, my plans for the month extended as far as naps, bad TV, and getting as much sun as humanly possible. Just kidding… my plans extended as far as very specific house projects, bad TV, and learning a bunch of new recipes for the fall. Plus the sun part!

Here’s a quick review of my Summer Checklist, and how my projects went…

Continue reading