Easy Pasta Salad

As previously mentioned, summer is my season. I just love it. One thing I love is how easy it is to gather people in the summer. Somehow, it just seems simpler. Have a campfire, host a cookout, play yard games, plan a potluck. These summer days are longer, and they seem to lend themselves to leisure and fellowship more than the dark days of winter.

If you’re looking for something simple, colorful, and delicious to take to your next picnic, cookout, or potluck, look no further than this cold pasta salad. It will only take 15 minutes of prep, and can be made well in advance of your event–just store it in the fridge!

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Easy Summer Pasta Salad

Serves 8

You’ll need:

  • 16 ounces pasta of your choice-I used a multicolored rotini.
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, each quartered
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Ground pepper, to taste

1. Prepare your pasta according to the directions on the box.

2. Chop your cucumbers and your tomatoes. I sliced the cucumber, and then chopped each slice into quarters. I won’t limit you in your cucumber chopping method. Do as you see fit. I quartered the tomatoes, but, once again, I won’t limit you.

3. Once the pasta is done, drain in a colander, and rinse under cold water until the pasta is cool. Toss cucumber and tomato in a bowl with the pasta, and drizzle dressing on top. Toss until dressing is evenly dispersed. Add Parmesan cheese, and toss again. Top with ground pepper.

4. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving, and up to 24 hours.

Enjoy!

Saturday Small Talk

And this week, summer finally arrived in Northern Michigan. There has been grilling, hammock laying, and campfire sitting. And goodness, I’ve missed this season, and I’m so glad it’s back. 20140508_183635Summer is a season of new life and of growth and of sunshine. Of beaches, and fresh air, and water, and friends. Summer is my season. This is the season I look forward, and the season in which I feel most alive.

20140509_192738Though April was rainy and quite chilly, I started running again, registered for a triathlon, practiced lots of piano, and fertilized the garden.

In what’s remaining of May, I hope to:

  • Share a performance of the concerto I’ve been working on! A week from tomorrow is the big day, and I’m excited.
  • Plant the garden! I need to till in the fertilizer, plot it out, reinforce the fencing to keep the critters out, and plant.
  • Enjoy a trip to Minneapolis–I’m excited to explore a city I’ve never been to.
  • Relax. The week pre-performance is a busy one, so I’m looking forward to some good old R&R.
  • Jump into Donald Miller’s Creating Your Life Plan. I’ve watched the first 2 modules, and I’m hooked. Once I complete the course, I’ll let you know how things turned out.

Bacon Chocolate Bark

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A couple of weeks ago, some friends sent out an invitation for a BaconFest. A party surrounding all things bacon. There were jalapeno poppers (with bacon), twice baked potatoes (with bacon), bacon wrapped dates, bacon no bake cookies, bacon dipped chocolate, bacon chocolate bark, and several other bacon inspired treats. It was all delicious!

??????????????????????Bacon Chocolate Bark

You’ll need:

  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

I recommend splurging on good quality chocolate and bacon. You won’t regret it!

1. Cook your bacon on medium-low heat. Your goal is crunchy and crispy bacon, without burning it to a crisp. You don’t want chewy bacon in your chocolate bark. While it’s cooking, line a baking sheet with tin foil.

2. When your bacon is cooked, let it cool on some paper towel. While it’s cooling, melt your chocolate in the microwave. Pour all of the chips in a bowl. Microwave for a minute, and stir. Repeat until there are no more chocolate lumps.

3. Crumble the bacon up into small bits. Mix in 2/3 of the bacon with the chocolate, and spread it on the baking sheet. You want it about a 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the remainder of the bacon on top.

4. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once it’s cooled all the way through, break it into chunks and serve.

Enjoy!

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