Summer Pasta Salad

Summer Pasta Salad1

What do hot, hot, HOT summer days make you think of? For me, it’s a number of things.

Growing up and eating MASSIVE amounts of watermelon with my grandpa.

Being on summer vacation from school and getting to wake up whenever the heck I want. (I’m an ‘adult’ with a regular ‘job’ now, so this doesn’t happen anymore.)

The song “Summer Nights” from Grease.

Summer Pasta Salad3

The sound of the ice cream truck music playing in my grandmother’s neighborhood.

Spike Lee’s movie, “Do the Right Thing”.

The handful of summer camps/programs that my Mom signed me up for…neither of which I ever liked.

Cedar Point trips.

Beautiful, cool(er) sunsets.

Summer Pasta Salad2

Now how about food? I know that for me, I have “Summer Memories”, and then apart from that, I have “Summer Food Memories.”

Watermelon. Eating watermelon wedge after watermelon wedge until I start burping- that’s how I know when to stop.

Ice cream. One of the only things that I like about extreme summer heat is that it gives me an excuse to eat ice cream. It’s not like I ever NEED an excuse. I definitely eat ice cream in the dead of winter as well, but…still.

Popsicles. Not the watery kind in the plastic wrappers; REAL popsicles with chunks of fruit that are so thick and creamy, you can chew them.

Barbecue. Nothing replaces  the flavor that a charcoal grill can inject into a piece of meat. Nothing.

Summer Pasta Salad4

Finally, there’s pasta salad.

Pasta salad has gotta be one of the most quintessential summer foods there is. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I don’t know if I even WANT to know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I’ve tried lots of different kinds of pasta salads in the past that experimented with different flavors, including this VERY delicious Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad. However, this recipe sticks to the ‘basics’ of pasta salad, resulting in a dish that is pretty much guaranteed to please everybody.

I’ve included all of the ingredients that I personally prefer in my pasta salad, but should you try this out, feel free to add or swap out stuff that you or your family prefers, like cheese, olives, or meat.

I think it’ll make for a pretty cool summer memory 😉

******************************************************

Summer Pasta Salad


Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Print

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 green , yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped and undrained
  • 1 cup yellow canned corn, drained
  • 3 mini salad cucumbers, thinly sliced

Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

 

Directions

Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass measuring cup with a whisk.. Taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

In a large bowl, toss all of the salad ingredients together, then drizzle in your desired amount of the dressing.

Refrigerate pasta salad for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld, but preferably overnight. Serve chilled.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Bake

Pic1

Whoever came up with the idea of having breakfast for dinner is a genius.

I know that weekends typically are the time when we think about cooking big breakfasts with all our favorite foods that we don’t have the time to cook during the week when it’s all we can do just to wake up on time and get out the door to work. Fancy, home cooked weekend breakfasts/brunches are great….but in my family, they don’t really happen all that often.

See, the majority of my family really doesn’t get all that much sleep. When the weekend comes around, they’re not really thinking about what biscuits, waffles or casseroles they can get up early in the morning to cook- they’re thinking about being able to sleep in for the next day or so. In fact, the only time that usually happens is when we have family members from out of state visiting, which unfortunately isn’t too often. Generally, in a contest between laboring in the kitchen and catching some extra zzzs…the sleep usually reigns supreme. Me? I’m somewhat of a night owl and an early riser. Personally the idea of getting up early to cook a fancy breakfast is fun and exciting to me. But the idea of getting up to cook said fancy breakfast and no one even being awake (or willing to wake up) to eat it? I’ll pass.

Pic2Luckily, there’s that nifty little invention called Breakfast for Dinner.

With Breakfast for Dinner, I can feel free to make all the wonderful breakfast foods that would otherwise go to waste when made at the crack of dawn. There are certain breakfast themed foods that my family’s willing to eat at anytime of day- Breakfast Bakes are one of them. They’re versatile,  delicious and pretty easy to put together.  Not only that, but they taste good both hot and cold, so leftovers don’t even necessarily need to be reheated. I’ve had/made breakfast bake several different ways; sometimes I make it more ‘breakfast-style’ and include some stale bread in the bottom for a kind of ‘crust’, but most times I go without the bread so that it more resembles a really fluffy, deep dish omelette. It tastes pretty good with sausage gravy over the top, or (my personal favorite way of eating eggs), sprinkled with Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco sauce. Pic3

I started to call this dish the “It’s Your World Breakfast Bake”, just because, when it comes to putting it together, it really is ‘your world’- meaning that you can put just about anything you like in it.I’m providing my recipe that has my favorite vegetables and choice of meat, but don’t necessarily think that means that you have to stick to it 100%. You prefer white potatoes to sweet potatoes? Fine, swap ’em out. Not a fan of green pepper, but a huge fan of mushrooms? Make the switch. Whatever you want, really. As long as you keep the ratio of eggs and buttermilk proportionate to the amount of meat and veggies you add, I’m sure your breakfast bake will turn out fine. Just keep in mind not to add TOO many ingredients; you want the eggs and buttermilk to submerge the solids, not be absorbed by them. Have fun guys 😉

FEED(ME) BACK: What’s your favorite ‘Breakfast for Dinner” food?

***********************************************************************************

Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Bake

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Yield: About 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups shredded or diced sweet potatoes
  • A little over 1 cup of cooked and crumbled breakfast sausage (both beef and turkey sausage work fine)
  • 16 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 370°.

2. Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place sausage, sweet potatoes, onion and green pepper in baking dish and mix together.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, being sure to beat eggs enough so that the yolks are fully broken.

4. Pour egg and buttermilk mixture over the meat and vegetables in baking dish, evenly spreading the mixture out so that all four corners are evenly covered.

5. Bake in oven for about 60 minutes, or until set in the center.