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Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad is a quick and easy lunch or dinner perfect for spring and summer.

Greek Pasta Salad

Pasta salads make great summertime dinners. They are easy side dishes, but when you add meat they can also be a simple main dish lunch or dinner.

I have tried a lot of them and have not been very impressed. My husband is not a fan of mayonnaise. So that rules out a good portion of pasta salads. This salad works great because it is not mayonnaise based.

Greek Pasta Salad

The feta cheese, pepperoni, and olives also give it great flavor and texture.

Meals like this are perfect in the summer because you can make them ahead of time and you do not have to use the oven.

Greek Pasta Salad

Five Ingredients Or Less

Works for me Wednesday is having a five ingredients or less edition this week. I decided to pull a few recipes from my archives for it. I couldn’t decide which one to share, so I am sharing two recipes today. Both of the recipes are from the first month or so of my blog so I am sure most of you missed them anyway.

If you are a regular reader you know I am trying………to cook healthier. Well, neither of these really fit into the healthy category. The muffins or low fat but both recipes use a box mix. But they are good, quick and easy, and five ingredients or less. For more five ingredients or less ideas see WFMW.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

In trying to eat healthier one of the things I have been doing is making my own salad dressings. I have found several we liked, but nothing that really stood out. Especially when it came to a homemade ranch style dressing.

That was until last week. Several weeks ago I found at the library the book “How To Cook Everything Vegetarian” By Mark Bittman. I contains a lot of helpful tips and ideas. One of his recipes that caught my attention was his Real Ranch Dressing. He said that in order to give you the twang and the thickness of ranch dressing you need to use buttermilk powder along with buttermilk. I was instantly curious. This was what I had not liked about the other ranch dressings I had tried. That had not had the right texture and taste. Something was missing. So I gave the buttermilk powder a try. It worked. It was the best of all the ranch style dressings I had tried.

I will list his recipe and my variation of his. I used his basic one but added some extra things. I thought it needed a little more flavor. I would also suggest you let this sit in the fridge several hours before using it. It will thicken up. You should also taste this when you are making it. Adjust the herbs to your taste, add more or less depending how you like it. I think the real tip is the buttermilk powder. It gives it the extra taste it needs.

For more great kitchen tips see Tammy’s Recipes.

Kitchen Tool

I really enjoy having an ice cream maker. We don’t live close to a grocery store or ice cream store. If we are in the mood for ice cream and we are out of it, too bad. It is not worth the trip to town to get some. But with an ice cream maker you can have ice cream any time you want. I enjoy experimenting with different kind of ice cream.
Our current favorite is a recipe Life As Mom linked to a couple of weeks ago. It came from the Better Homes and Garden website. We love this easy recipe. We have also left out the Toffee and used peanut chips which was really good. I think mint pieces or Reese’s pieces would also taste really good. I think you could really change it up.
For more great tools see Life As Mom.

Ground Beef Stroganoff

This is a great simple recipe. It contains ingredients that I usually have on hand. This recipe comes from the cookbook “Country Ground Beef”. This cookbook was published by Reiman Publications in the early to mid 1990’s.

This book is no longer published. The newer version is not as good. If you ever see this book used, pick it up. It contains many simple and frugal ground beef recipes.

I have changed the recipe a little bit over the years, but it is the same basic idea.

Garden Update

I thought I would post some garden pictures. We are currently picking lots of zucchini and cucumbers. We have also picked a few tomatoes and carrots. We are also now getting green peppers and jalapeno peppers. Our lettuce is gone because it does not like all the hot weather. It became very bitter and tough so we pulled it up and let the pigs enjoy it.

Please forgive all the weeds in the pictures. We have had the wettest year on record. Two years ago we were in the middle of a severe drought and now we have too much rain. But at least it is not as bad here as it has been in some parts of the country. The garden is doing pretty well with all the rain. One good thing is that I have not had to water at all this year. But the weeds are liking the rain a little too much. I am having trouble keeping up on it. I hope the kids and I can tackle the weeds this week.

I will label the pictures for you non gardeners. 🙂

Cantaloupe

Watermelon

Heirloom Variety Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Zucchini

Cucumbers

I wish we would have trellised these. The plants are growing wild and I think they would be easier to deal with if they were growing up. Maybe next year.

Green Peppers

Jalapeno Peppers

Our First Carrots This Year

We planted blackberries four years ago. My dad thought we were a little crazy. If you have ever been to western OR you know that blackberries grow wild everywhere. But here in OK the wild ones are very small and not nearly as tasty. So, yes I planted blackberries. This is the first year we have really had many from the bushes. We are only getting a few handfuls here and there but we have enjoyed eating them. I am also freezing a few each day hoping that I will have enough for a pie or two by the end of the season.

The Best Chocolate Frosting

The Best Chocolate Frosting

The Best Chocolate Frosting is easy to make and is delicious on just about any cake or cupcake. This frosting makes even a box cake mix taste like a homemade cake.

This frosting is my all time favorite frosting. I have been making it for years. The secret is the combination of cream cheese and butter and beating it for a long time.

I use this for yellow cakes, chocolate cakes, 9×13 cakes, cupcakes, layer cakes, and more.

Gluten Free Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

I made a Chocolate Zucchini Cake to take to a church dinner and used this frosting. (I need to share that cake recipe soon!) I don’t usually frost this cake, but since I am taking it somewhere I decided to splurge and frost it.

It is a no fail, quick, and easy frosting. I know this one will always turn out and that it makes even the simplest cake taste better.

Chocolate Frosting

If you need a chocolate fix give it a try. And if you have just a little left over, try it spread on graham crackers. It is a great way to use up a little bit of frosting.

My Favorite Cake Recipes:

 

Best Chocolate Frosting

Quick and Easy Chocolate Dessert

I found a new favorite, quick, and easy chocolate dessert. This is one of the best quick desserts I have ever made. I enjoy making fancy desserts. I like to try new recipes and enjoy taking the time to make them, but in reality, most days I don’t have the time it takes to make them. I need easy things to make. This is perfect for that.

In my quest to eat healthier I am also trying to stay away from packaged and prepared items. I am not saying this is healthy, but it is homemade and not full of the extra things that packaged items have in them.

And did I mention it was SOOOOO good.

This is based on a recipe from the food network. The original recipe was a little to fancy for me. It had a mascarpone whipped cream on top. I decided to leave that off. I don’t exactly have mascarpone sitting in my fridge. 🙂 It also had espresso powder in it.

My husband and I don’t like coffee or espresso, so I left that out. If you like coffee go ahead and try it. It called for 1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder. But I think it was great without it. The recipe called it a mousse but I think it was more like a rich and silky pudding. When I think of mousse I think light and fluffy this was definitely more pudding like.

The View From My Window

This Spring we have had rabbits living under our deck. We see them coming and going but they always hurry away when the see us. This afternoon my daughter noticed this out the window.

The rabbit had come right up next to the house. It was looking right at us. I ran to get the camera but was only able to get this one picture before it hopped away. It was so cute. I love living in the country!

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

No bake chocolate cookies are one of my favorite childhood cookies. They are a classic no bake cookie that everyone loves.

I know there are many versions of no bake cookies out there. These are my favorite. We made these cookies often when I was a kid. The original recipe came from an old cookbook put together by the school in the small town I grew up in. It is one of those tried and true recipes that everyone made. These cookies were brought to bake sales, church potlucks, parties, picnics, and more.

I think it was the first cookie recipe I learned to make all by myself and I have made it more times than I can count over the years. All my kids now know how to make these as well. This is a great recipe for kids to try because it does not use the oven, just the stove top.

No Bake Cookies

This time of year when the weather is hot and I try to avoid turning on the oven. We still enjoy having desserts though and this recipe works great for those times that I need a dessert, but don’t want to turn on my oven.

The reality though is that these cookies are good anytime of year. We make these a lot during the summer, but we also make them all year long.

I also love that this recipe is inexpensive to make. It contains simple ingredients that I usually have on hand. This is the classic no bake cookie recipe with peanut butter. An alternative butter like Sunbutter or soybutter works as well.

If you are looking for a peanut free no bake cookie though be sure to check out my no bake cookies without peanut butter. And you can make no bake cookies even easier by turning them into bars. Check out my no bake cookie bars to see how I make no bake cookies even easier.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

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