Easy Pasta Salad

Something you’ll find us doing A LOT this summer is grilling out. Now that we have a house – and our own outdoor space to even have a grill! – we plan to get outside as much as possible and cook some delicious meals!

I’m sure a lot of you like to grill out in the summertime. There’s also so many opportunities for parties, get-togethers, and just enjoying time with family and friends.

We tend to have a lot of pot lucks and BBQs to attend this time of year, so one of my go-to recipes to bring is an Easy Pasta Salad. This recipe is seriously so simple, and it feeds a crowd if you need it to!

The ingredients include, pasta, veggies, cheese, and dressing. That’s it!

I use store-bought Italian dressing to make it easier on myself, especially when I need to make this recipe last-minute. But, there’s plenty of homemade dressings out there you could whip up and use instead.

You can also add as little or as many veggies as you like; the possibilities are endless.

Hope you all are having a great summer. Enjoy the recipe!

 

Easy Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. penne or rotini pasta
  • 16 oz. bottle Zesty Italian dressing (or a homemade dressing)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese or cheese cubes (I’ve used both and prefer the cubes)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional other veggies to add: cucumber, tomato, olives, etc.

Directions

  1. Boil pasta in a large pot according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, dice up your red bell pepper, and any other veggies, and set aside.
  3. When pasta is finished, drain and rinse with cold water.
  4. Pour Italian dressing over pasta, add bell pepper and cheese, plenty of salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Refrigerate 2 hours+ before serving.

Tortellini & Broccoli Alfredo Bake

Happy Saturday guys!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far. Our plans were sparse, so we are enjoying some free time before our week starts.

We have Vacation Bible School at our church this week, so that will make for busy nights without much cooking. Sometimes that’s a win, unless it calls for eating out a lot.

One way I try to even things out when I know a busy week is approaching is trying to cook as much as possible the days before and after that week.

Last night was no exception! I made this Tortellini & Broccoli Alfredo Bake on a whim and I was so so pleased with it. Super easy to pull together when you’re pressed for time and ingredients.

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This recipe would also be a good one if you do “Meatless Monday”. Or, you could easily add some chicken to bulk it up a bit. It was plenty filling for the 3 of us without any additions, though.

Enjoy the recipe!

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Tortellini & Broccoli Alfredo Bake

Ingredients

  • 19 oz. bag frozen cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups raw broccoli
  • Large jar of Alfredo sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese, divided*
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Salt to taste

*I used colby jack cheese because that’s what I had on hand, but you could use just about any kind of cheese you like. Mild cheddar or a mixture of parmesan and mozzerella would work too.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with 2 tsp of salt.
  3. Boil tortellini and broccoli for about 2 minutes, or until just a bit tender.
  4. Drain and set aside.
  5. Return pot to stove and set to medium heat. Add butter and whisk until melted.
  6. Add alfredo sauce, chicken broth, 1/2 cup cheese, and seasonings and whisk until well combined and cheese is melted.
  7. In a greased baking dish, add tortellini and broccoli. Pour alfredo sauce over and mix. I suggest adding an extra sprinkle of salt and black pepper at this point.
  8. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top.
  9. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

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Meal Prep: Balsamic Chicken & Veggie Pasta

I’m really getting good with my weekend meal prepping. It seems to be getting easier for me to follow through with it, which is great since I know its saving us money!

If you like to meal prep, I cannot recommend doing sheet pan meals enough! It is such a time saver and makes for easy clean-up. Sheet pan meals are a big thing right now, which I’m sure you know if you’re on Pinterest.

My usual meal prep includes chicken, veggies, rice, and some sort of Asian-inspired sauce. This past week, however, I decided to mix things up. I was inspired by this post and this post to do a pasta dish with a balsamic sauce. And I’m so glad I did!

This pasta dish is filling, but also seems light – like a pasta salad – from the sauce and veggies. There was a bit more clean-up than I would usually prefer, but it was worth it! Tip: If you try this recipe, be sure and read all the way through before beginning to get an idea of what prep work you’ll need to do.

I used red bell pepper and broccoli in this recipe, as those are two of our faves and are easy to roast in the oven. But, feel free to use whatever veggies you like! Just know the balsamic sauce is tangy and sweet, so you want veggies that pair well with it.

If you meal prep, I would highly suggest trying this recipe out! It makes enough for my husband and I to have prepared lunches for most of the week. Obviously, you could also make this for your family for dinner, or half the recipe if there’s just two of you. Options here, people!

Maybe I’ll eventually post my Asian-inspired dish that I often meal prep as well. You need variety sometimes 🙂

Enjoy friends!

 

Balsamic Chicken & Veggie Pasta

Servings: 6 (good-sized portions)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil for sauce + more for cooking
  • 2 tsp. each salt and pepper + more for taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. On a large sheet pan, spread out your red bell pepper and broccoli in an even layer. Drizzle 2 tbsp. olive and sprinkle 1 tsp. each salt and pepper over veggies. Mix them up with your hands to coat all the veggies.
  3. Roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes (Note: I only do 15 min. because it keeps the veggies a little crisp).
  4. While the veggies roast, heat a large skillet on medium high with 2 tbsp. olive oil.
  5. While the oil is heating, boil the water for your pasta – cook according to the package, drain, and set aside until the chicken is finished.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, light brown sugar, and a little salt and pepper.
  7. When your oil is warm (it will sort of be rippling when you look at it), add in your diced chicken and sprinkle with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper, plus more for taste if needed. After about 5 minutes, turn your chicken and pour in half of the balsamic sauce (It will bubble up for a bit, but that’s normal!). Cook for about 3 more minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink inside, then turn off your heat.
  8. When the veggies and pasta are done, add them into the pan with the chicken. Pour in the rest of your balsamic sauce and stir the mixture.
  9. Serve for dinner with crusty bread, or divide into well-sealed meal prep bowls (Note: Let the meal prep bowls cool completely before refrigerating).