Friday, June 28, 2013

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Welcome to summertime, folks! Summer has officially started. Do you know what this means? It means it's time to break out your skewers, steak knives, burger condiments, seafood tools, and potluck recipes. It's barbecue time! I always seem to struggle with barbecue sides. I have a few go-to recipes that always seem to make an appearance but I get nervous trying new sides. Family and friends look forward to the "Layered Pea Salad",  the "BBQ Baked Beans", and the "Make Ahead Macaroni Salad". Well I went out of my comfort zone yesterday and I'm glad that I did. I love fruit but wasn't so sure how everyone else would love fruit....WITH PASTA!

That's right! Pasta salad with fruit and veggies. Oh - and there may have been some bacon tossed in. (Who can say "no" to bacon???) This pasta salad was a hit. I cringed as the first serving was dished out but was pleasantly surprised when I saw seconds and thirds being passed around. I was even more surprised when my non-pasta-salad-eating-husband asked for a scoop.

This combination may sound strange but it's sure to please your palates. It's a nice change from the standard pasta salad and I have a funny feeling that it will be making a regular appearance on our tables this summer.

Here's what you do.

Broccoli, Grape, & Pasta Salad
Slightly adapted from

16 ounces farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate florets into small pieces using the top of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.

Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, diced red onion, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl. Add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes. Stir to coat. Cover and chill for 3 hours. Stir in bacon just before serving.

** NOTE: The original recipe called for some toasted pecans (but I omitted them because I decided to keep this "nut-free". The original recipe also called for only 8 ounces of pasta but I felt that there was a lot of dressing for this salad and it was much better balanced with more pasta. You can use your own judgement here and do what you prefer.

I hope you guys like this one. I'm adding it to my barbecue side rotation. It's definitely a keeper. Enjoy!

xo, Stephanie

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves!

Hello All!

Today I'm coming at you with some kitchen gadgets. I actually have a little kitchen gadget "problem". I'm a "Gadget Girl". I sort of have more than I know what to do with but each one really serves a purpose (I promise!). I'm all about making life easier and these are items that I find extremely useful.

Hold on to your seats because here we go...

#1. My Rachael Ray "Spoonulas"

Is it a spoon? Is it a spatula? I don't think I'll ever know or really care because this is the most-used utensil in my kitchen. I use it in stir fries, in a pot of pasta, to mix things together, and to scrape bowl clean. I love that it's heat-resistant to 400 degrees and that it comes in my favorite kitchen color - RED!

#2. Zyliss Garlic Slicer

My Hubby LOVES garlic. I swear he's a vampire. The worst part about this for me is slicing it. My hands smell like garlic for days! Well - this nifty little garlic slicer (or mini mandolin) protects my fingers and hands from smelling like garlic. What else do I love about it? It's easy to clean, works very fast, and garlic slices are even!

#3. Nutri Bullet

Are you juicing yet? Well, I definitely recommend it. Juicing has become a morning ritual in our house. We purchased the Nutri Bullet and our mornings changed forever. We emulsify vegetables and fruit in the morning and feel better. My Hubby has lowered his blood pressure. I've dropped a few pounds. We love this thing and can't imagine not having one. Did I mention that you can even use this to make a quick fresh tomato sauce? The Nutri Bullet is so powerful and barely takes up any of our counter space. This is my newest kitchen gadget but one that's sure to stay around for a long time!

#4. Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer

Have you noticed the prices on pre-cut fruit at the market? It's crazy. I manage to spend a fortune just for convenience. I love my Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer. What I love about this model over the others is that this one comes with attachments in three different sizes. Different sized pineapples? No problem! This thing will core and slice your pineapple in no time. Instead of spending $6.99 on pre-cut pineapple at the market, you can save yourself a few dollars and buy a whole pineapple for around $2.99 to slice at home.

#5. Kuhn Rikon Can Opener

Have you ever cut your hand on a sharp can once you've opened it? This used to happen to me all of the time. Not anymore! My Kohn Rikon Can Opener reverses the canning process. No sharp edges. It's awesome! As a bonus, it even functions as an opener for jars, soda cans, and bottles. LOVE this thing!

So there you have it, folks! These are my "Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves". Hope you enjoy these. Have a fabulous weekend!

xo, Stephanie