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Creamy Cucumber Tomato Pasta Salad

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
When I first started my food blog, one of the first recipes I shared was my Zesty Italian Pasta Salad. Pasta Salad is one of those recipes that if I had to bring a small dish for a gathering, it's my go-to. I could prepare it the night prior and for little to nothing.

This creamy cucumber tomato pasta salad is very similar to the zesty salad. The major difference is the kind of dressing that I used.

Creamy Cucumber Tomato Pasta Salad


Creamy Cucumber Tomato Pasta Salad

Creamy Cucumber Tomato Pasta Salad

What Did I Use

I sent my husband to the grocery store to grab my usual zesty Italian salad dressing, but with the stores low in stock due to the impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing, my favorite salad dressing wasn't available. 

No worries though. I was able to make a different spin to this salad and it actually turned out great. 

The great part about pasta salad is you can add whatever you like. If you want to get fancy you can include some peas, broccoli, olives, or even carrots to really make this a vegetable loaded pasta salad. For this salad, however, I kept it simple and added tomatoes and cucumbers. When I say that this a cheap dish, I mean that.

I took my penne noodles, cooked them, allowed them to cool, chopped up my veggies, and then mixed everything together. I refrigerated for a few hours and then it was ready to serve.

You can serve this with whatever tickles your fancy. Grilled chicken, meatballs, burgers or whatever sandwich you'd like is what I find this best served with. But to be completely honest, I've also eaten this as a meal in itself. 

Creamy Cucumber Tomato Pasta Salad

Bring this creamy cucumber tomato salad to any small gathering as the perfect side dish
Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 20 | Total Time: 30 mins
Course: Side Dish | Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pasta, Penne Noodles, Vegetarian Friendly, Pasta Salad, Cucumber, Tomatoes
Servings: 4-6 servings

Ingredients
3 cups cooked penne pasta noodles
1 cucumber chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Kraft Creamy Zesty Italian Salad Dressing

Instructions
1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil to cook your noodles. Allow your noodles to cook until tender
2. Drain your noodles and set aside
3. Chop your cucumber into quarters and tomatoes into halves
4. In a large mixing bowl add your noodles, cucumbers, tomatoes, and salad dressing and mix well together
5. Store into the fridge and allow to cool
6. Serve cold

Creamy Cucumber Tomato Pasta Salad

Lazy Meat-Free Baked Ziti

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Who else is going stir crazy during this time of social distancing due to COVID-19?

I hope that you all are being safe. This has been a scary time for our country as it feels one moment we're receiving an influx of information, but nothing very consistent. The shelves in the stores are empty, people have taken loads of toilet paper (still trying to understand that one), and everyone is advised to work from home if they can. It's been a lot to take in.

I've been making sure I can create simple meals to feed my family now that we're advised to stay home. Although some places are allowing carry-out, I've found it best to prepare our meals at home to avoid going out as much as possible.

I'm not entirely sure I could even call this a recipe because it is so easy. It only took me about 30 minutes to prepare this dish, and we had tons for leftovers; which ultimately served its purpose.

WHAT DO YOU NEED

I haven't shared a pasta dish in quite some time. But this lazy meat-free baked ziti is always delicious. There's literally no way to mess up this meal.

All you'll need is ziti pasta noodles, your favorite marinara sauce, and beefless crumbles. I prefer to use the Gardein Beefless Crumbles brand, but there are several others you can choose from. Or, if you rather avoid the soy, you can opt to leave this piece out.

You can swap the beefless crumbles out for lentils or anything that will give you a "beefy" texture.

For spices, I love using Italian seasoning and garlic powder. I feel you can't use enough of this stuff. It always adds some extra zing to this dish that my family loves. If you've been following me for a while, then you already know that I don't use a ton of salt for seasoning. However, you can always add as much or as little as you'd like in this dish.

This meal is so customizable to your liking.

And oh my!!! How could I forget about cheese!!!! 

The cheese brought this dish all together. I used a fiesta blend sold at Walmart, but you can use whichever cheese you prefer.

Lazy Meat-Free Baked Ziti

Lazy Meat-Free Baked Ziti

Lazy Meat-Free Baked Ziti

WHAT DO I DO

I like to break this part down into four easy steps. Cook noodles, add in beefless crumbles with marinara sauce, mix in together, put it in the oven. 

That's it. 

This is probably the simplest dish anyone could ever make. But I think it's nice to find a simple meal that takes a spin on being meat-free. 

This Baked Ziti is the perfect family dinner with all of the craziness going on. My small family of three was able to eat from this dish multiple times. It's one of those meals that regardless of how many times you eat it, you can't get tired from it. 

Add in your favorite spices and voila! You just fed your family the best dinner ever. 

Lazy Meat-Free Baked Ziti

This vegetarian-friendly baked ziti is great for those lazy nights to feed your family.
Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 25 | Total Time: 35 mins
Course: Dinner | Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: Pasta, Baked Ziti, Vegetarian Friendly, Mock-Meat
Servings: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
3 cups cooked ziti pasta
2 bags of Gardein beefless crumbles
1 cup white onion chopped
2 24 oz jars of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Prego Chunky Garden)
2 cups of Fiesta Blend shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of Italian Seasoning

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil to cook your noodles. Allow cooking until noodles are tender
3. Drain noodles and set aside
4. In a separate pot, add in your chopped onions until onions are translucent
5. Add in your beefless crumbles and pasta sauce to the onions
6. Add in your garlic powder, Italian Seasoning, and pepper to taste
7. Stirring occasionally, allow simmering for approximately 10 minutes
8. In a baking dish, combine your cooked noodles and pasta sauce
9. Stir noodles and pasta sauce together so that everything is evenly distributed in the baking dish
10. Sprinkle cheese over top the ziti to cover everything
11. Add to oven and allow to bake until cheese is melted or browned
12. Sprinkle fresh parsley or more Italian Seasoning before serving

Lazy Meat Free Baked Ziti

Vegetable Fried Rice

Monday, March 9, 2020
Recently, my husband and I have been craving takeout food. But, we're trying very hard to cut back on how often we're eating out. I'm a sucker for pizza, burgers, and hibachi but this vegetable fried rice is the perfect fix to kick that craving.

Vegetable Fried Rice


WHAT DO I NEED

I used to wonder what made fried rice taste so good. What's the special sauce? What do they use to give it that extra zing? But honestly, fried rice is probably the simplest and inexpensive meal you can make.

All I used was cooked rice, a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, eggs, and the special sauce: soy sauce.

You can add a ton more vegetables to this if you like. I kept it simple and used the green peas and carrots combination. I've seen some recipes that have added onions, broccoli, and even spring onions. It's what you make it.

WHAT DO I DO

I've found that this recipe works best with day-old cooked rice, but you can also use cooked rice the same day.

Creating this dish is pretty simple. You're adding the cooked rice to your skillet or wok, throwing in your veggies, pour on your soy sauce, and there you have. Vegetable Fried Rice!

The one thing I wish I did differently with this recipe was fried the egg first. I mixed the egg into the rice too soon, and I believe the rice lacked that extra texture because of this. What I would recommend is cooking the eggs in a separate pan beforehand and then adding in later.

This way, you'll get more egg texture. But nonetheless, it still turned out really good despite doing it the other way as well.

If you want to get real fancy with this, you can purchase white sauce from your grocery store. Or, if you have a great recipe, you can create your own.

Vegetable Fried Rice

No need for takeout. Make your own vegetable fried rice right at home
Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 25 | Total Time: 30 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch | Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: Rice, Fried Rice, Vegetable Fried Rice, Vegetarian
Servings: 3-4 servings

Ingredients
3 cups cooked white or brown rice
1/2 cup frozen carrots
1/2 cup frozen green peas
3 eggs (scrambled)
1 tbsp vegetable oil for cooking
3 tbsp soy sauce

Instructions
1. Scramble your three eggs in a small frying pan using very little oil or butter to coat the pan
2. In a separate large wok or frying pan, add your vegetable oil
3. Stir in your carrots and green peas until tender
4. Add in your cooked rice, stirring until everything is mixed
5. Add in your cooked scrambled eggs stirring everything together
6. Pour the soy sauce over top, stirring until everything is combined. Add more soy sauce to your liking.
7. Serve immediately

Vegetable Fried Rice