Simplest Pasta Salad Ever

This is the pasta salad I invented when I had one super picky preschooler and one super picky two-year-old. We were having a bar-b-que and I needed a really quick side that everyone would eat (and a way to sneak any veggies into the meal). They loved it, the adults loved it too. I’ve been making it ever since. This recipe has fewer preservatives, salt, and is cheaper than the convenience boxes you can buy at the grocery store.

 

What you’ll need:

1 can baby sweet peas drained (use baby sweet peas, they are sweeter, I promise a better choice here)

Fat free Ranch dressing (whatever brand you use, or if you have time & can make your own that’s even better) You will need about 14 to 16 ounces, depending on your sauce preference.

3 1/2 cups dry Wacky Mac pasta (I really think they should start paying me for product endorsement-ahem-or at least send me coupons…)

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Water

 

Assemble:

Boil water, add pasta, cook then drain.

In a large mixing bowl, fold (use a spatula or wooden spoon & try not to mush the peas) pasta, ranch and peas.

Refrigerate, at least 30 mins. (keep in mind Ranch dressing is mayonnaise-based so it should be kept cold for safety reasons)

Top with Parmesan right before serving.

 

Voila! Fancy pasta salad a two-year-old will eat!

 

*This will keep in you fridge for about a week, if you want to make it in advance, or as leftovers. It can be frozen (without the parm) for a long transport in the car as well.  Also, way less bad-for-you stuff than say macaroni or potato salad (not that I don’t enjoy those as well)*

 

Mix it Up:

When you get to the point that you can play around with this and people will try it, experiment with other veggies or beans that can be added to this.

We like shredded carrots tossed in, make sure to shred then immediately coat with the ranch or they will discolor (and then No One will want it).

 

What other things could you tweak this with? Let me know. Enjoy your Holiday Weekend! 🙂

 

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One Pot Chicken Fredo Cheat

As the name implies, this is not a recipe for Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo. It is however really easy and one uses 1 cooking pot. This is a great weeknight meal (or in our case it was Mother’s Day & Mama didn’t want to spend the day cooking) because it’s quick, fairly nutritious, easy (make & clean up), and very kid-friendly. A personal side benefit for me? This particular recipe leaves exactly 1 lunch portion for me to take with me to work later in the week & is just as good reheated. It should be noted that while I put broccoli in this dish, you can put most any frozen veggie in it, broccoli just holds up texture wise (super important to kids with SPD & it seems most kids in general). If you have anyone in your house doing the whole “I only eat things that are white” diet (if you’ve ever eaten with a 2-5 year old you probably know the faze I’m referring to) you can use frozen cauliflower & it’s still pretty good. We ate our with a side salad, just to up the veggie content, but you can eat this completely on its own.

 

You will need:

  • About 3 cups of medium egg noodles (you can also use Wacky Mac here if you would prefer, but this is a recipe where I do not recommend substituting wheat pasta, that whole texture thing gets messed up then)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless Chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces (don’t worry about them looking pretty , they will kinda disappear in the pasta, just get them close to uniform size for cooking more evenly)
  • 1 medium sized bag of frozen broccoli
  • 3 Tlbs of powdered garlic (no garlic press in the hotel 😦 )
  • 1 Tbls onion powder (Powder helps make this the picky texture kid friendly dish it is & then I don’t have to mince onions)
  • 2 dashes of salt
  • 2 cans reduced sodium/fat cream of chicken
  • 1/4 stick margarine
  • Skim milk (or whatever milk you keep at your house)
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Large cooking pot with a lid

    Put just enough Olive oil in pot to coat bottom. Add garlic, onion, and 1 dash of salt to oil as it heats. Before your oil starts to burn your seasoning, add chicken. Cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is white but done all the way through. Place cooked chicken on a plate for a little bit.

    In the same pot, add egg noodles and enough water to cover the egg noodles. Add the other dash of salt, and about a tablespoon of olive oil, bring to a boil. Boil until noodles are done, then drain. Reduce heat on stove to low.

    Return chicken to the pot. Add cream of chicken and margarine. Stir until margarine melts, then raise heat to medium and add milk at about 1/4  cup increments at a time until sauce looks like, well, sauce. This sauce should be a little thin and white in color at this point. (If you add too much milk, just let it cook a little longer to thicken)

    Once sauce starts to bubble add entire bag broccoli and fold it in. Place lid (vented slightly) on top, and reduce heat back to low. Let      simmer about 3 to 5 minutes, then stir. If broccoli is heated through and sauce looks slightly thicker, it’s done! Turn off the stove and serve! If not, put the lid back on and give it another 3 to 5 minutes. I have never seen this take longer than 10 minutes, but that will depend on your “eyeballing” the milk earlier.

    Enjoy!

Twisted Cheesy Pasta

Cooking in the hotel room has been… interesting, yes we’ll go with that. Limited cook wear/utensils/etc + world’s smallest stove= interesting. So So you know what to look for.tonight I made a classic (well an our house classic) that is a one pot supper. Enjoy!

 Boil water

Add 1 bag wacky mac veggie spirals or any veggie pasta you like (pasta will be orange, green, yellow, and purple in the pkg, but that’s from things like beets-shh don’t tell me, I hate beets- not food coloring)

Drain pasta when cooked (Do Not Rinse!!! Rinsing washes away vitamins!)

Put pasta back in pot on stove on low heat setting.

Add 10oz shredded cheddar (whatever brand you like, but use real cheese)

Add about 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Add 3 tablespoons butter/margarine (we are in a hotel use what you’ve got)

Add 1/3 cup skim milk (again or whatever milk you keep around)

Stir until well blended.

Drain 1 can baby peas.

Fold peas into pasta.

 

Serve as is or as a side with a bigger meal.

 

Substitutions: aka what to do next week…

 

Twisted Senorita Pasta:

Use shredded jack cheese instead of cheddar.

Use 1/3 cup chunky salsa instead of mustard.

Add 1 can drained black beans & 1 can drained yellow corn.

Loose the peas (they just don’t work with these flavors)

 

Twisted Pizza Pasta:

Use shredded mozzarella as your cheese.

Use 1 pkg Italian dressing mix (Not dressing-MIX. Pay attention people)instead of mustard.

Add 2 handfuls raw baby spinach.

Add can of diced tomatoes (do not drain).

Add mini pepperoni slices (or diced grilled chicken if you are anti-pepperoni, you are welcome RedBird)

Add small can drained mushrooms.

Keep or loose the peas, it’s up to you here.

This one looks “fancy” or as we say around here “all classed up” with grated parmesan on top.

 

Enjoy your night!