Greek Tortellini Salad and my version

Do you need a recipe for a large pot luck? Something that a ton of people will enjoy, but super simple to make? Do I ever have a recipe for you!

So allrecipes.ca is one of my all time favorite sites to visit, when I am stuck for something to make for dinner. I have never been let down, by this site, and use it at least 10 times a month.

For Easter, I made a variation of this recipe that I had always wanted to make, because it looks amazing, and hearty.

Before I give you the recipe, and my version, I wanted you to understand just how many people this will feed.

Easter weekend, we had 41 people at my In Law’s for sugaring off… and then Easter Sunday we had 21. We still had left overs… and everyone, had 1 spoonful at least. This is a recipe you can cut down, and make a smaller version of, or you can make a huge one.

Ali’s Greek Tortellini Salad’s recipe is as follows:

Original recipe makes 8 servings Change Servings

2 (9 ounce) packages cheese tortellini
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 pound baby spinach leaves
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup slivered red onion

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add tortellini, and cook for 7 minutes or until al dente; drain.
In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, parsley, oregano, and salt. Place the cooked tortellini in the bowl, and toss to coat. Cover, and chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Place eggs in a saucepan with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and allow eggs to sit in the hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, cool, peel, and quarter.
Gently mix the spinach, feta cheese, and onion into the bowl with the pasta. Arrange the quartered eggs around the salad to serve.

FULL CREDIT goes to: Jamie Hensley 

Bonnie’s Greek Tortellini Salad: For a Large Group

2 Double packages of Cheese Tortellini (I used Classico – fresh)

1 Jar of sun dried tomatoes

1 Jar of roasted red peppers (there was 3 in it)

1 jar of black olives (cut)

1/4 package of spinach (sliced, or shredded)

1 white onion (finely diced)

1 package of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

1 package of sliced carrots (I used the match stick ones)

6 baby cucumbers (sliced – they were tiny)

1/4 cup of Greek dressing

Crumbled feta on the side.

Directions:

Set your pasta to boil, (See Jamie’s instructions above)

Cut up all your veg, and canned veg, make everything into small bite size pieces, with the exception of white onion, make that a fine dice. Put all the ingredients in one bowl and mix as you keep adding, getting the sun dried tomato oil, and the roasted red pepper, and olive juice mixed in with your fresh veg. If things are a bit dry, don’t be afraid to put the some of the sun dried tomato oil, or olive juice in.

Once the pasta is done, and cooled, mix everything together. I reserved about 1/4 of the pasta, and placed it in a plastic bag to have extra just in case – and believe me I needed it.

I actually only put about 4 table spoons of dressing on just before serving, and no one put more on. I placed the dressing on the side of the bowl with the feta. I personally believe that the cheese in the pasta was enough, but a lot of people liked having it as well.

The spinach I should note, I added last, I cut them up into ribbons and transported it to my in-laws separately, I didn’t want it to wilt too much.

This dish will work very well on a summer’s night, dining alfresco, or even for a picnic.

I hope you enjoy! And please check out allrecipes.ca for more amazing recipes!

It’s Not What It Looks Like

When my son was born things were pretty easy, we all went out to do groceries or any kind of shopping. But now that may daughter is here, grocery shopping with both kids is next to impossible. So we’ve worked out a schedule where every Saturday night my darling daughter and I head out on our own and do groceries, while my hubby stays home with our son. You’re probably wondering why I don’t send the hubby and our son… Our son can ask for things and groceries tend to be more expensive when he’s around. So when little miss and I go out it gives the boys some one on one time, and I get out pretty much by myself for a bit.

My pregnancy this time around was quite different, it was still easy with no complications, but I put on more weight, and dealt with normal symptoms like morning sickness, bloating and swelling. I found my fingers swelled up, not enough to notice but enough that I couldn’t wear my wedding rings. So I had become accustomed to not wearing my rings. Then baby arrived, the swelling went away, but I was so used to not wearing my rings that I never put them back on. Apparently that was a mistake, because when I started doing groceries with just the baby the looks and (not so) whispered remarks that I received were unbelievable.

I do my groceries at Walmart because they’re close, cheap, and they price match. But that also brings with it a certain type of customer in some cases. Our local Walmarts seem to have about 3 different type of shoppers. 1) the people that think it’s ok to wear pajamas outside the house, 2) the penny pinchers who for some reason think they’re better than everyone else, 3) the normal people that go about their business and not give a crap about what’s going on around them.

The second type of shopper are the ones that I’ve come across the most. There’s been a few different occasions where I’ve been out shopping and end up shaking my head after encountering certain people.

The first incident I had was at the end of a quick shopping trip on the way home from a midwife appointment.  An  elderly gentleman apparently felt the need to stop me in the middle of the aisle while I was heading for the door and made sure that everyone around us could hear him. I don’t remember exactly what he said to me, because quite frankly after the way he got my attention I only paid enough attention to know when he stopped talking. But the main idea of what he said was that I was a disgrace. How dare I think that’s appropriate to raise a child on my own, and to do it as a teenager was even worse. I heard enough to just respond with a simple “Actually I’ve been married for a year and a half and I’m 26.” Then I just walked away.

The next incident was actually a humorous pleasant occasion. As I was in line waiting to pay for my groceries a middle aged man joined the line behind me. Of course this was the one time my little sweetie decided to throw a complete fit, so I pulled her out of her seated and continued to unload my groceries with one hand. This delightful man not only helped me unload my groceries so they could be rung in, but then told me how wonderful a job I was doing at being a mom and that it can’t be easy to be so young and to be doing it on my own. The best part… He then offered to pay for my groceries. I filled him in on how my hubby was at home with our son, I then thanked him for the kind words and the offer but I couldn’t let him buy my groceries.  

The latest incident happened only just last week. The 4 of us went for a quick shopping trip to get the final things we needed for Easter weekend. We had paid and we’re heading to the car. I had both kids in the cart, and my hubby was making a quick stop at the lottery desk to get a ticket for that night’s draw. So I headed for the car to get the kids in and put the groceries in. My hubby was the one that noticed what happened. After walking past apparently a woman gave me a very dirty look, then turned and rolled her eyes and shook her head to her husband. My hubby said he couldn’t helped but laugh and think “Yeah she’s getting into a $45,000 van…she’s clearly a single mom to 2 kids.”

I can’t decide which is the worst part of any of those encounters was, the fact they all just assumed I was a single mother, the fact that only one was polite and offered assistance, or the fact that 2 of them seemed to think that being a single parent is so terrible.  No one wants to be a single parent, it’s not something someone strives for when they decide to have children. But if that happens to be their situation it’s for a reason that is frankly none of your damn business. So maybe take a page out of the delight an in scenario 2’s book, be nice, tell them they’re doing a great job you never know they could be in the middle of a terrible day where the kids are listening and nothing is going right. When it happened to me, my day was going just fine, but that didn’t mean I needed to hear those words any less.

So just because you think something is a certain way doesn’t mean it is, and if your one of those crazy judgemental people that constantly looks down at everyone else….. I suggest you just keep your mouth shut, because not everyone will be civil in return.  Believe me, if I was a single parent and had to deal with those situations, only one of the 3 people I encountered would leave with their dignity in place.

Recipe Alert! 7Up Grilled Chicken

On the weekend Bonnie and I were lucky enough to find some time and have agree day at the same time. So Bonnie and her hubby came down to see us and meet her darling God-daughter.

We worked out he timing so they’d be down around lunch time and I had everything ready by the time they got here.  We decided to go with a nice light lunch of grilled chicken and pasta salad. We always like to try new recipes with each ther so off to Pinterest I ran! This was what caught my eye and intrigued me.

7Up Grilled Chicken

2 cups 7Up
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Oil
2 tsp garlic powder
4-6 chicken breast

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1. Mix the 7Up, soy sauce, oil and garlic powder to make the marinade.
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2. Place chicken breast in a deep dish (like a casserole dish). The dish should be deep enough that the chicken will be almost all (if not all) submerged in the marinade.
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3. Pour marinade over chicken breast. Place in fridge and let sit for at least 10 hours.

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I made it at about 9pm Friday night and it hit the grill at 12:45pm Saturday afternoon.

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The blog that I found the recipe on said that this as a strictly outdoor grill recipe only, when she tried it inside but as the marinade dripped on to the pan (she used a grill pan) it ended up smoking up her house like crazy.

When I mentioned to Bonnie what I was making, we both seemed to have the same reaction “could be interesting…” Well much to our surprise, it was delicious. I got pretty lucky.

Like I said I paired it with a pasta salad but it could go with anything really, potatoes, veggies, it’d be great on a bun as a sandwich.  If you give it a try I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

“Mommy sister’s sad!”

I had been struggling to figure out a topic for my first big post back after my daughter was born for a couple days, but after the past 24 hours and reading an article on Huffington Post it all got sorted out in my head.

The article I read was called “Mommy, Somebody Needs You“. The writer talks about what it was like when they brought their newborn daughter home, and any time she made a sound their older child would yell “Mommy somebody needs you”. She said it started out really cute then started to get annoying. While I read it I couldn’t help but laughed at how true it is. My son has been amazing since his sister was born, but every little noise she makes (especially the rare occasions when she starts crying) my son jumps to pointing out “Mommy sister’s sad”. It really started out cute, he didn’t want to see her sad and would get a bit upset himself when she was upset, which never helped the situation but I would drop everything and attend to their needs. After a couple weeks of hearing “Mommy sister’s sad” followed by some whining from my son it started to wear on me, he’d get a quick “Yes Clark I can hear her” the moment the words came out his mouth.

But just like the author of the article I came to realize how nice it was the hear those words, and know that the moment I would turn around and give my son a hug, and pick up my daughter that the fussing would stop and everything would be all better. It’s not going to be like that for much longer, my kids won’t admit that they need me even though I know they will. They won’t let me know when the other is sad, and a hug won’t necessarily make everything better right away.

So just like the author, I’m going to take it while I can. No matter how many times I hear that phrase come out of my sins mouth, I’ll still do the same thing every time, drop everything and give them a hug and a kiss.

As a parent you learn early that your kids will stop needing you, they just won’t admit it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Dinner ideas

So, St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, and this holiday always baffles me. I am 1/4 Irish, and take pride in my heritage, but why have green beer? It just does not make much sense to me.

On that note, as it is on a Tuesday, this year, and lets face it as we get older, and with kids we don’t want to go out and party the whole night away, and then have to go work work the next day. So, I thought giving you come recipes to try out for the holiday might get you in more of an Irish mood, when you are stuck at home!

Guinness or Beer Stew

I’ve made this recipe more than a dozen times, and I have to say it is on my menu this weekend. I am not a huge cabbage fan, but the Colcannon, is amazing, and worth the effort.

Irish Soda Bread

This is a quick and easy companion to your stew, and fresh bread? How the hell can you go wrong with that?

Some other options, that you can find out there for the holiday are, Corned beef, Lamb or beef pie, Irish Shepard’s pie, which is made with lamb instead of beef, and peas instead of corn, with your own personal variations as well.

The dessert options, can be anywhere from cookies to cake, but if I had to chose my ultimate St. Patrick’s day dessert? It would be Guinness and Chocolate cheesecake! and OMG is all I have to say!

Whatever you do, on this upcoming Lucky Tuesday, please enjoy! And if you do indulge in a little bit of an Irish pub crawl, please be safe!

 

 

100 Books of 2015

I decided that 2015 I would challenge myself to read 100 books. Now years ago, this would not have been a problem, but since getting glasses reading books has become difficult and I fall asleep. So I have been listening to audiobooks, and am in love with the process. 

 

My fascination with audiobooks started with the Harry Potter books, there are two sets out there, one read by Jim Dale, and the other by Stephen Fry. I honestly prefer Jim Dale over Stephen Fry; Jim takes extra care to put a voice to his characters. And of all of them when he impersonates Snape, it made me fall in love with the character even more. But honestly, that is another story. 

 

I used to listen to Harry Potter, to fall asleep years ago. It helped me drift off, and I cannot remember having a better sleep when I was listening to these books. From this point forward I was addicted. I have listened to almost every kind of book imaginable that is out there. 

 

There are times when I will read the book first, and then listen to it, just to see what the difference is. And honestly there is a GIANT difference, when listening to a book, rather than reading it. It is more like you are there, and still get to make up the story in your head; rather than being transported into the vision of the directors and producers of a movie.

 

Now, I get to listen to a lot of these books while at work. A lot of people ask me how I can pay attention to the book and still do my work. And honestly, I just can. A lot of my job is repetition, and data entry, and if someone enters my office I pause the book immediately, not to be rude. It is just a habit I have gotten into, out of respect for my co-workers. 

 

So, what I intend to do with this list of 100 books (which is not currently at 100 yet, but is growing each day.) is reviewing each book or series I complete. At this point in time in 2015, I have already completed 3 new books, and 5 Old, and am in the middle of three. (Yes I can read three things at once, as long as they are not the same genera, I can happily switch between worlds.) You will find I am a giant fan of mystery, and fantasy, that range between young adult to adult. I am not a fan of the romance (harlequin) type books, but will pick one up here and there if the story intrigues me. 

 

Books I have read so far this year: 

 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – Cinder, Scarlet and Cress, and Fairest is one of the books I am half way through at the moment. I went through both Cinder and Scarlet in a matter of two days, and Cress took me a little longer due to not having the time. I am taking my time with Fairest, because the last book in the series is not out until June, so I want to savor what I have left until then. 

If you are a fan of Fairy Tales, these are the books for you. They are a re-telling of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White, with an interconnecting world, and kingdom. Also it is set in the future with cyborgs, and robots, a life/world threatening disease, aliens, and space ships. I know it sounds a little odd, but honestly I couldn’t put these books down. I had over looked Cinder more than once, thinking that the primes was just too much for me. But when I gave it the chance it deserved, I was very pleasantly surprised. I find myself shipping for all the main characters of the books, and their meant to be loves. And am rooting for the characters to FINALY get together, I mean it is a fairy tale, there has to be a happy ending, right? I guess I will just have to wait until June.                                                          



Another book I am in the middle of is Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell: An original Mystery. Yes, I am a Veronica Mars fan, and yes I read the Rob Thomas written books. I am savoring this one as well, because I do not know if there will be another one. 



The third book, I am in the middle of, and basically just started today ( and finished the same day.)  is Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. And holy crap, I cannot put this book down. This is something new, (to me) this premise, and man is it ever fascinating. I am really enjoying the audiobook, because they change voices for the male and female protagonists of the story, and it makes it a lot more engaging. Much like Gone Girl by Gillian Glynn, having the two different voices in the audiobook, I believe engages the reader even more so than that of the book. If I had to give the book a rating after finishing it, I would actually put it as 10 out of 10. I cannot believe how engaging, and creative this book realty was. 



 

A series that I am currently the second book of is The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden. The first book, I actually caught on Netflix as a movie. Called: Tomorrow when the War Began, a great movie, and when I found out that they were books I had to immediately go out and get them. 

The first book is much like Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption, practically word for word from the book to movie. There are a few differences, to tie off the end of the movie, as there are seven books, the ending cannot be exactly the same. 

I am enjoying the series, very much, and it is a nice change from the lovey dovey chick lit, or young adult. It is about war, and survival, when all things are lost. 



So with 3 months in I am 5 books down, I think I need to get a move on! I will update in a little while with how my progress is going on. I am hoping that I can have at least 50 done by June! 

 

Recipe Alert! Chicken Chow Mein

So, one of my go to recipes, is Chicken Chow Mein. It’s honestly the quickest, easiest, dish I have ever made. And the BF loves it, which is also a great thing.

You need the following:

Chicken Breast – You can cook it in the oven, saute it, or even use the left overs from a roasted chicken.

Chow Mein Noodles – Much like ramen noodles, some of the cheapest things in the grocery stores.

Any veggies you like. – I use, onion, carrots, and celery.

Low Sodium Soy Sauce – I prefer low sodium, for the taste, and the health benefits are good too!

Cook your chicken, cook your chow mein, and saute your veg. Toss it all together with the amount of soy sauce that you like. We like it a little heavier than most people, but do it to your liking. And VOILA! Dinner!

If you are more of a fan of takeout Chow Mein here is a copycat recipe from Damn Delicious of Panda Express’ Chow Mein Recipe. It is a little bit more involved than my version, which I will call the lazy way, but I’ve also made it this way, for a Chinese potluck party we attended a little while ago.

And if you are looking for a good recipe resource, Damn Delicious is one of my newest favorite places to go. I am so tempted to try her Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots.

Enjoy!