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!

 

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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.

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Yummy Breakfast Acai Bowls

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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

 

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Crowdpleaser – Easy Summer Sangria

Guys – it’s coming. Summer is almost here in the Northeast! (Friends in the South, just keep your mouths shut and your Instagrams beach-free for a couple more weeks, ok?) Outdoor get-together season is just around the corner, and for me, nothing is better than a sweet glass of sangria on a warm afternoon.

It’s funny – as a 29 year old who spends most of her day surrounded by classmates in their early 20’s, I hear a lot about weekday afternoon drinking and Senior Spring stories that refer to 2017. Even though my Senior spring was in 2011, I still have such fond memories of all 4 years at Brown spending every afternoon on the Main Green and Lincoln Field with my friends.

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One of my favorite places on Earth, Lincoln Field at Brown University

Some of my favorite afternoons were spent grilling out with our larger group of friends, playing Beerbee and Cornhole, drinking Sangria out of a huge bucket on the lawn. Every time I drink Sangria I think of these carefree times and smile.

This Sangria recipe stayed with me through college and even into my early years in New York City to rooftop parties and to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Now, I’m passing it on to you! It’s been honed and perfected throughout the years, and requires only as much effort as you want to put into cutting up fruit. I recommend oranges, apples, pears, and watermelon – and you can grill some of those pears too for a healthy snack!

Summer Sangria

Photo Credit Lincoln Field Photo Christopher Sewell, whose beautiful photo I found through a Google search.
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Frozen Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Treats Your Pup will Love

RWTD

Reese Witherspoon the Dog Princess-ing Out on the Beach

Who else in the Northeast is sick of this winter weather? It’s tough having a pup this time of year, especially one with so much energy.

In our house, we all find it hard to battle the dry skin that comes along with this bitter cold – even Reese! Once the weather started to deteriorate, Reese’s coat got less and less smooth and shiny.¬† I did some research and found that coconut oil was a healthy treat for pups with benefits that reached far beyond their skin. Then I found these delicious pupper treats that our girl loves. We feed her one every day from a standard ice cube tray — or a fun shape, larger sized treat if she’s been really good!

Frozen Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Treats
1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup peanut butter (no xylithol!!)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Melt coconut oil and peanut butter over low heat – don’t let the mix boil. Stir well!

Mix in the cinnamon, and continue to stir.

While you pour the mixture into ice cube trays, make sure to keep the liquids well-mixed. Sometimes the peanut butter sinks to the bottom, causing some of the treats to be essentially all peanut butter and others to be mostly coconut oil.

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Freeze and feed to your favorite pup! Don’t forget to check around for the right amount of coconut oil to feed your dog based on size, and to ease them into a diet that includes coconut oil.

*I found this treat recipe on the Golden Barrel website, but I tweaked it a bit myself because I liked the consistency of the treat a bit better, and because our pup gets a lot of peanut butter other places.

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