Here is another summer salad that will be easy to pack in individual containers and bring to swim meets, picnics, or any other tailgate type event that comes up this summer. It can be made ahead and keeps in the refrigerator for a day or two as long as you do not add the lettuce until just before serving. I also tested to see if it could be stored in a Mason jar for a teacher or office lunch, and it works perfectly. I won’t lie; the fact that it looks very Martha Stewart and Pinterest-y in the Mason jar is a huge draw for me.
16 oz. shell pasta, cooked and cooled
2 roast chicken breasts, pulled off the bone and diced/shredded (a grocery store rotisserie chicken works too and saves time)
12 oz. Caesar salad dressing (I like Marie’s brand)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 to 1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced in 1/4 circles
~1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper, to taste
1-2 heads Romaine lettuce, shredded or chopped
Combine cooked pasta, chicken pieces, tomato pieces, and sliced onion.
Add dressing and mix gently. Start with about 2/3 of the dressing and add more if it seems too dry. You will need more dressing than you think because of the lettuce that will be added before serving.
Sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan cheese and mix again.
Just before serving, add the lettuce to the pasta and mix.
If you are packing in a Mason jar or tupperware for a work lunch or picnic, layer the serving of pasta salad on the bottom. Place a layer of lettuce in the top. Store in the refrigerator (or cooler) until ready to eat.
A friend once told me that all good southern desserts should have a crushed up candy bar added to them. Check and check. I brought this “Chocolate Bomb” (TheRoomDad’s official name for the dessert) with Heath bar sprinkles to the Memorial Day picnic we attended yesterday. I actually have a hard time eating very much of this brownie trifle because it is sooo chocolate-y, but no one else seemed to have a problem with it.
Trifles are a layered dessert with some type of cake pieces, pudding/cream filling, and another item like fruit (or candy) pieces in a footed glass dish. They are easy to assemble and must be made ahead of time, so the flavors and ingredients will meld. I think they make a great recipe choice for large groups.
2 boxes brownie mix (I use Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix)
16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
3 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mixes
4 c. milk
6 (1.4 oz.) Heath candy bars, frozen
trifle dish (or other glass serving dish with tall sides)
Bake brownies according to the directions on the box for a double recipe. The Betty Crocker double batch bakes in a 15″ x 10″ pan. After the brownies cool completely, cut or break apart into large pieces. You will crumble the large pieces into bite size pieces as you layer into the trifle dish.
Pour the dry pudding mixes in a large bowl and add 4 c. milk (this is less milk than what the recipe on the box will indicate). Using a whisk, mix the pudding until smooth.
While the Heath bars are still in their wrapper, hit them on the counter to break apart. If they are frozen, they break apart more easily. After the candy bars are crumbled, open the wrapper.
In the trifle dish, create a bottom layer of bite sized brownie pieces. You can break the brownie into small pieces using your hands or cut into little pieces with a knife.
Spread a layer of chocolate pudding on the brownie pieces.
Spread a layer of Cool Whip on the pudding layer.
Sprinkle Heath bar pieces on the Cool Whip.
Repeat the layers ending with Heath bar sprinkles.
Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours before serving.
One box of brownie mix is not quite enough, but you will have extra brownie pieces using a double batch. I usually have a little leftover pudding and Cool Whip too.
This recipe is not exactly swimsuit friendly, but I couldn’t resist. Do you eat delicious party food to kick off the summer, or do you lean towards “healthier” options?
We attended the annual end of year family picnic for my son’s Cub Scout den. The other moms usually request my Pasta with Pesto and Peas side dish that both adults and children love, but I decided to go rogue this year and bring a sun-dried tomato pasta salad.
The recipe is a little risky because it uses black olives. Many people (meaning TheRoomMom) avoid olives. However, this recipe has just enough olives to give a salty/briny taste without actually having a super olive-y flavor. I originally got the recipe from an Ina Garten cookbook and have tweaked it a little over time. With Memorial Day picnics just around the corner, this recipe might be something to consider.
1 lb. fusili pasta (corkscrew pasta)
good olive oil
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
1/4 c. black kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 lb. fresh mozarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. basil leaves cut in chiffonade (thin ribbons)
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 T. red wine vinegar
6 T. good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 t. capers, drained
2 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for the time given in the directions on the box (about 12 minutes). Drain well. Add pasta to a large bowl, and toss with a little olive oil (~2 t.) to keep from sticking together. Let the pasta cool.
While pasta is cooling, seed the tomatoes and dice. I used Roma tomatoes because they looked like they would be the reddest and tastiest of my choices in the store. If you can get really good homegrown tomatoes in another variety, use them.
Pit (if needed) and chop the black olives into a very small dice. Chop 6 sun-dried tomatoes. Cut the mozzarella into medium dice.
Add diced tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella to the cooled pasta and toss gently.
For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients (sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper) in a food processor and run the food processor until the dressing is almost smooth.
Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss well.
Just before serving, add basil and Parmesan cheese and toss again.
Can be made ahead.
It is served at room temperature, so it works well for tailgates, picnics, or group meals.
Diced artichoke hearts are a good addition.
Pairs well with grilled chicken or grilled steaks.
Anyone need a really good sandwich recipe for a Memorial Day picnic? By Memorial Day weekend, it will be two days away from my last day of school, so chances are I will be almost comatose on my sofa and not going anywhere. However, if we do attend any events that weekend, I will be preparing pork tenderloin sandwiches with a champagne mustard sauce. I have brought these to the Derby races, Mardi Gras parade parties, potluck events, Super Bowl parties, and tailgates. They can be served at room temperature and can be made several hours ahead (but I prefer not to refrigerate them overnight because the arugula gets soggy).
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. bourbon
2 T. brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pork tenderloins
Champagne Mustard Sauce
1/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 T. champagne mustard
1 T. finely chopped green onion
1 1/2 t. garlic vinegar
crusty French baguette
To prepare marinade, combine soy sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, and garlic. Place pork in a large Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over and seal the bag. Marinate at room temperature for 3 hours turning occasionally. You can also marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove pork from marinade and prepare grill. Grill pork until center is a little pink. Remove pork from the grill and tent the meat with foil. Let rest until room temperature. The pork can be cooked a day ahead. Do not slice the pork until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
While pork is resting, prepare sauce. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, green onion, and vinegar in small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
When pork is cooled, slice thinly on the diagonal.
To assemble sandwiches, halve the baguette horizontally separating the top of the loaf from the bottom. Spread sauce on the bottom and top of the bread. Place slices of pork along the bottom half of the bread. Top with arugula then put the “bread lid” on the sandwich. Slice into wedges.
Champagne mustard is hard to find. I have located Stonewall Kitchen’s Maine Maple Champagne Mustard at Whole Foods. If I don’t have a champagne Mustard, I use Dijon.
Garlic vinegar is also hard to locate. I replace with white wine vinegar. I think I could probably steep garlic in my white wine vinegar to make my own garlic vinegar, but I never think about it ahead of time.
Squishy rolls like Portuguese rolls work well too instead of the French bread.
If taking to a tailgate, the sandwiches can be bagged individually and stored in a cooler.