Picnic Week: A Super Easy and Delicious Pasta Salad

Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party

 

I’m posting a series of picnic-themed posts this week in honor of the Portland Bloggers’ family picnic that is happening this weekend. The first post was all about fun picnic supplies to make for a pleasant picnic in the park (or wherever). Now, onto the food!\


One of my favorite things to make for a picnic is my super easy and delicious pasta salad. It doesn’t have any name that I know of… I learned it from word of mouth from a friend and have been making it ever since. It doesn’t have any mayo so it is pretty heat friendly. You can add in things or take them out as you like. I’ll share the base recipe I use and then one of my favorite modifications!

Easy Pasta Salad

A Super Easy and Delicious Pasta Salad

Serves a whole bunch of people… I really can’t even estimate well, but over 12 side dish portions.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 6 cups of tortellini (You can decide the filling, I typically go with cheese filling or half cheese and half spinach)
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing— I’ve used everything from Wishbone to Olive Garden. My favorite is Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Italian Dressing (Affiliate Link)
  • 1 bag of shredded parmesan cheese— approximately 5 to 8 oz of cheese will be used. I sometimes shred my own. I sometimes get it in a bag. The pictured KRAFT Shredded Italian Cheese Mixture (Affiliate Link) would work nicely as well.

Directions:

  • Boil the tortellini as you would any pasta— tortellini tends to float to the top when done. I always give it a taste test to check for sure.
  • Pour the frozen peas and carrots into a colander and put in sink while the tortellini is boiling.
  • Pour the finished pasta and boiling water into the colander after the pasta is al dente. The hot water will cook the veggies!
  • Rinse with cool water until the whole mess of yummy food is cool.
  • Pour in a BIG bowl.
  • Then add up to 1 full bottle of dressing (to taste, I typically use 1/2 to 3/4 a bottle) and the parmesan cheese to taste (I usually use the whole bag)
  • Cool and enjoy!

See, so easy! Now, here is my most recent modification. I used all of the above ingredients, but I added diced ham and chives at the end! One of the best things about this recipe is you can make it as simple or as gourmet as you want. If you want to go supremely foodie on this picnic favorite then get some fresh tortellini, make your own Italian dressing, grate your own super nice parmesan, and add in some prosciutto.

A great way to serve this dish is to just put them in individual canning jars. The jars can be the food storage containers and double as dinnerware.

Want some more awesome pasta salad ideas? Check out my friend Bee’s Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Sun-dried Tomatoes or Rebekah’s Six-Ingredient or Less Greek-ish Pasta Salad.

What food do you love bringing to a picnic?

Toddler Food

Kid with Ice Cream

Feeding a toddler is one of the more frustrating things I’ve experienced of late. Before having my son I had ALL sorts of ideas on how I would feed him. I read book after book. I made promise (to myself) after promise. But, as with most of my prior ideas about parenting, out the window those rules went. I still adhere to some, others bent a little, and some just broke.

I’ve talked a little about my own childhood food relationship and how that shaped me, and I’ve said a few things about what I’d like to teach my own child about food. What I haven’t shared is what we are ACTUALLY doing with food and our toddler. It isn’t rocket science, though it feels like it sometimes. And, goodness knows that not everyone agrees with what we do and how we do it. I’m open to suggestions, but he is still my son and I am doing what I really think is best for him and us.

My Toddler’s Diet at 23 Months:

This is an approximation of my kiddo’s diet at 23 months. It changes from day to day with his likes/dislikes. I can usually tell when he is feeling bad or is about to have a growth spurt by his disinterest in food and extra interest in milk. He drinks more milk than many kids his age. 

Our (Current) Toddler Food Rules

  1. (Almost) Everything in moderation
  2. Limit sugar to one sweetened item a day (fruit doesn’t count)
  3. NO artificial sweeteners
  4. NO caffeine (other than chocolate, but that fits in the limited sweets.)
  5. As much veggies as he wants. Almost as much fruit— kid will make himself sick if he really gets as much fruit as he wants.
  6. Juice is rarely given.

A lot of this is just how we eat… so, it is easy to follow. My son really doesn’t care for a lot of beverages besides milk and sometimes water. He does love a glass of spicy V8 though! So, if he doesn’t seem like he is getting enough veggies I will let him have a glass of V8. He does typically get a sweet treat daily. We try to limit the amount. But, seriously, his ice cream smile is totally worth it.

My Toddler’s Approximate Day to Day Menu:

Breakfast: Kiddo usually wakes around 8-9 in the morning (don’t get all jealous for the late sleeper… sleep is a HUGE issue for us and he still doesn’t sleep through the night). As soon as he wakes he drinks a sippy cup (4 oz) of milk and eats 1 banana. Then we typically serve scrambled eggs and toast. Lately though he hasn’t really wanted eggs and is going for yogurt and berries and/or granola instead.

Snack: He has a milk between breakfast and lunch. Sometimes he will also eat an apple or a few raw veggies.

Lunch: Lunch is hard. This is the meal that he is so often throwing fits about. We’ve tried everything from leftovers, to sandwiches, to junk food, etc. Sometimes he eats eat and other times he refuses. Some things that we can usually get him to eat include: pasta, ham, veggies, and cheddar.

Snack: Yet another milk—sometimes two. Snacks at this time typically include almonds or any of lunch that he didn’t eat.

Dinner: Whatever we are eating. This usually works out fine. He surprises us often on what (and how much) of what he eats. But, recently, he has been refusing all but one or two items. If he eats REALLY well then we will give him a treat if we are having one. He will sometimes get a tablespoon or so of ice cream.

Bedtime: Another milk—or two… and then usually 2 overnight.

We’ve tried to restrict his milk to once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. It results in a LOT of crying (from everyone) and still no eating. We’ve talked to his pediatrician about this and she thinks, from his behavior when he receives the milk and from his growth, that is is actually still needing the milk. The doctor’s office doesn’t seemed fussed about his diet… but, boy is it difficult!

Our Toddler’s Food Likes and Dislikes

Foods X LOVES: pickles, spicy V8, pasta (but, not filled pastas), ham (but only by itself), cheddar (no other cheeses), raw veggies, pizza, salad with ranch, milk, chips, salsa, almonds, yogurt, berries, bananas, peaches, apples, cake (though he has only had a couple small slices in his lifetime… he loves it and asks for it constantly!) and ice cream. Kid loves him some ice cream.

Food X Dislikes: hot dogs, chicken nuggets, chicken, mac & cheese, bread (seriously), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches

icecream02

Kid confounds me. By the by…the above ice cream cone was shared.

More Info about our Food Journey and Other Mom’s Journeys: 

When you were a kid did you have foods you really loved and really hated? Does your kid have some strong likes and dislikes?

Simple, Refreshing Gin and Basil Cocktail

Gin and Basil Cocktail

Gin and Summer go hand in hand in my book. This simple and refreshing cocktail is perfect for a hot summer evening. Make it in single servings or mix it up in a batch to serve a crowd. I recently made a batch of this to serve at my husband’s Farm to Table Birthday Party. I also made a batch of Fruity Whiskey Collins. The two drinks went FAST and were perfect for an evening celebrating out in the garden and backyard.

Simple, Refreshing Gin and Basil Cocktail Recipe:

Gin and Basil Cocktail Ingredients

Gin and Basil Cocktail for one

Ingredients:

  •  2 oz of your favorite Gin
  •  1 oz of Lemon Juice (approximately 1 lemon)
  • 1 oz of Basil Simple Syrup
  • 4 oz soda water
  • ice
  • glass (at least 8 oz glass)
  • stirring spoon
  • garnish of Basil

Directions: 

  1. Pour 2 oz of Gin, 1 oz of Lemon Juice, 1 oz of Basil Simple Syrup, and 4 oz of soda water over ice in a tall glass.
  2. Stir
  3. Garnish with Basil leaf
  4. Enjoy!

Gin and Basil Cocktail

Gin and Basil Cocktail for Eight

Ingredients:

  •  16 oz of your favorite Gin
  •  8 oz of Lemon Juice (approximately 8 lemons)
  • 8 oz of Basil Simple Syrup
  • pitcher (at least 32 oz)
  • stirring spoon
  • Soda Water to be used at time of serving)
  • Measuring cup for 4oz (1/2 cup)
  • glassware, ice, stirring spoons, instructions sign and garnish of Basil for guests to make their own.

Directions: 

  1. Pour 16 oz of Gin, 8 oz of Lemon Juice, and 8 oz of Basil Simple Syrup into a pitcher
  2. Stir
  3. Set out with sign, glasses, stirring spoons, ice, measuring cup and soda water so guests can make their own.
  4. Pour 4 oz of the mixture over ice, top with soda water, stir, garnish with Basil and enjoy!

A Fruity Whiskey Collins

A Fruity Version of the Classic Whiskey Collins

I’m kind of in love with whiskey. It makes for wonderful cocktails year round. Don’t believe me? Try this awesome Fruity Whiskey Collins cocktail for the summer. And, then try this Honey, Orange, & Ginger Old Fashioned next Fall or Winter!

I made a batch of these bad boys for my husband’s Farm to Table Birthday Dinner Party. I set out a bottle of premixed ingredients and allowed guests to pour their own and top with soda water. It worked out really well. I had to make two batches because the drink was so popular.

Garnish the drink with a small orange and lemon wedge or top it with a cherry!

Ingredients for a Fruity Version of a Whiskey Collins

A Fruity Whiskey Collins

Recipe for a Single Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz of your favorite whiskey
  • 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/4 large orange)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz soda water

Directions:

  1. Pour whiskey over ice.
  2. Squeeze lemon & orange over a strainer and into ice. (You can do this without a strainer too. I just like my strainer)
  3. Pour simple syrup over ice
  4. Top with Soda Water
  5. Stir with cocktail stirrer, spoon, whatever!
  6. Garnish with fruit
  7. Enjoy!

Fruity Whiskey Collins Garnish

Batch Fruity Whiskey Collins Recipe:

makes approximately 8 cocktails and will need a 34 oz pitcher or container
Ingredients

  • 16 oz of your favorite whiskey
  • 4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 4 oz freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/4 large orange)
  • 8 oz simple syrup
  • Fruit for Garnish
  • Soda Water to top cocktails, not to mix in! 3oz/glass

Directions

    1. In a Pitcher Combine the Whiskey, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice, and Simple Syrup
    2. Stir Well
    3. Set a glass with a mark at 4 oz next to pitcher so that guests can measure their own cocktails out. A 1/2 cup measuring cup works perfect.
    4. Set out instructions for guests to pour 4 oz of mixture over ice, top with soda water, stir, and finish off with a garnish of fruit!

Fruity Version of a Whiskey Collins

What is your favorite summer beverage?

Summer Entertaining Series: Summer Bar Cart from Sam Rosen

As part of my Summer Entertaining Series I’ve asked several of my favorite bloggers to share tips, parties, recipes, and ideas for great Summer parties. Today I’ve got one of my FAVORITE bloggers (& friends) sharing her favorite Summer Essentials. Please welcome Sam of Sam Rosen to A Well Crafted Party!


Hi everyone! Thanks to Jenni for having me! I usually blog about fashion and parties so I knew exactly what I would share when Jenni asked me to share with her readers. I am a big fan of the bar cart trend right now! It’s perfect if you don’t have room for a full bar in your house, it’s always party ready! If you’ve looked into buying a bar cart, you probably found a large amount of gorgeous carts that are extremely expensive! I suggest looking into thrift shops. I am lucky beyond words because this was my grandparents bar cart and when my grandma passed my dad made sure this bar cart got back to Oregon {from Florida} for me. I immediately started to fill it. I had most of this stuff already, just waiting for a bar cart. I am obviously a champagne drinker and eventually I’ll get a few more alcohols and bar accessories but until then, this is what I’m working with. I found most of these items thrifting, given to me by family. or at stores like Target/TJ Maxx/West Elm.

Tips for Creating a Summer Bar Cart

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Summer Entertaining Series: His & Her Cocktails from Tiny Little Rocket

As part of my Summer Entertaining Series I’ve asked several of my favorite bloggers to share tips, parties, recipes, and ideas for great Summer parties. Today I’ve got one of my FAVORITE bloggers (and friends!) sharing one of her Summer cocktail recipes. Please welcome Erika from A Tiny Rocket  to A Well Crafted Party!


Hello! it’s me Erika from A Tiny Rocket, which is a blog about my adventures of mommyhood and making things.  I wanted to share with you today one of my favorite summer time cocktails.  I love a light refreshing cocktail in the summer. Since I am a new mommy, my husband and I do a lot of date nights at home which means lots of experimenting with fun new cocktails.  We do a version for me and a slight twist for my husband.  It’s seriously delicious :).
HIs & Hers Longbeach Lemonade Cocktail Recipes

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Summer Entertaining Series: Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork with Kung Foo Feltus

As part of my Summer Entertaining Series I’ve asked several of my favorite bloggers to share tips, parties, recipes, and ideas for great Summer parties. Today I’ve got one of my FAVORITE bloggers (and friends!) sharing one of her Summer recipes. Please welcome Shannon from Kung Foo Feltus to A Well Crafted Party!


I am so happy to be writing a guest post! Wahoooo for Summertime!! I am know for few things. Bacon is pretty much top of the list and gardening is high up there too. I am combining these two loves to bring you a really awesome recipe for a fresh and mostly healthy meal. I am not going on any Paleo diet anytime soon but I have been told that this can fit into that style of eating as well. Bonus! It is low carb for those into that and low sugar too. Really I feel like you can’t go to wrong with meat and veggies when you want to feel full and satisfied. But, more importantly, this dish can totally feed the masses if need be for relatively low cost. Double Bonus! We grow a massive amount of kale and tomatoes at our house among so many other foods. If you can’t grow your own, the next best thing if you don’t live near me, is hitting up the local farmers markets. Produce there is out of this world flavorful too. Grocery stores are great and all but nothing beats fresh local fruits and veggies if you can get your hands on them.

My sister helped me pick a recipe because I had about 30 ideas and no focus. She reminded me of a few very good points. Not everyone is a plant nerd like me. I grow a bazillion vegetables and like, research them and their origin, how they pollinate, how much of the plant can be eaten and of course how to prepare it. Which leads to her best point; Not everyone knows how to cook some of the veggies they like to eat. Like spaghetti squash. Before I had ever learned to cook it, I had eaten it at various friends houses for meals and even a few times in restaurants. With it looking like it does and turning out how it ends up it’s no wonder this delicious food can be botched ( I learned through trial and error horrible error). So, I give you one of my favorites and all the steps I can think of to help make preparation as simple and no nonsense as I can.

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Summer Entertaining Series: Summer Recipes by Adventures of Brad & Kendra

As part of my Summer Entertaining Series I’ve asked several of my favorite bloggers to share tips, parties, recipes, and ideas for great Summer parties. Today I’ve got one of my FAVORITE bloggers’ sharing her favorite Summer recipes. Please welcome Kendra from Adventures of Brad & Kendra to A Well Crafted Party! 

Hi everybody, I’m Kendra from Adventures of Brad & Kendra. Hopefully Jenni is having an awesome vacation and getting some much needed relaxation. Over on my blog I write about the happenings of my life ranging from recipes, DIY projects, crafts and other adventures life throws our way. My husband and I have been married for almost 7 years and currently reside just outside Seattle. In addition to my blog and my day job of being an Electrical Engineer I run the Etsy shop Simply {Darr}ling where I sell items such as scrabble necklaces, FOE hair ties, scarves, coffee cozies, and baby items.

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Summer Entertaining Series: Semi-Homemade Summer Salad from Back-Handsprings Through Bridgetown

As part of my Summer Entertaining Series I’ve asked several of my favorite bloggers to share tips, parties, recipes, and ideas for great Summer parties. Today I’ve got one of my FAVORITE bloggers’ sharing her favorite Summer Essentials. Please welcome Laura from Back-Handsprings Through Bridgetown!

 

BHTB 2

 

Hello peeps of A Well Crafted Party! My name is Laura, and I blog over at Back-handsprings Through Bridgetown. Jenni is a special kind of individual who can do things from Pinterest successfully, as well as create things that others want to pin. I am not. I suck at crafts and I never DIY (because my stuff will look DIY… in a bad way). That is why I must read blogs like Jenni’s to make myself feel inadequate and envious. But that is like, the point of blogs right?… especially fashion blogs. Haha! No, but seriously, we all need inspiration from people who have different gifting than ourselves.

 

Making Water More Refreshing with Naturally Flavored Water

I actually really like water. I drink a lot of it. However, I also really like cocktails, wine, beer, juices, milk, teas, coffees, etc. I’ve been upping my fitness routine to try to get in a healthier space in my life, but I’ve really discovered that I need to also work on the nutritional side of the whole thing as well. I take in a lot of calories from beverages I drink. So, in order to cut back on calories, I’ve been trying to find ways to make water more appealing for those times when I am really craving something else.

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Cocktail Recipe: Sweet Pea Cocktail

When I heard of the Sweet Pea cocktail I really had to think a bit before I decided to try it. I mean really, peas? In a cocktail? Well, I’m so glad I tried it! I found the original recipe at the Bon Appetit blog. I changed a few things to make it more my taste. I tested it out on friends who enjoyed it… so, I feel pretty safe in saying that this is a great cocktail for Spring or Summer.

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Portland Preservation Society and Pickled Asparagus Recipe

I have really gotten into perserving over the past couple of years. It is such an inexpensive, creative, and useful hobby. I started out making and canning tons of different apple and pear items and strawberry jams. Now I have been venturing into pickling. There has definitely been some trial and error. However, I’ve been having a ton of fun and have stumbled upon some tasty canned goods.

A few months ago I saw many of my Instagram friends posting images of canned items with the hashtag #portlandpreservationsociety. I was intrigued! This past week I finally got up the courage to create my own perserved items to bring to the meet-up. It was the perfect meet-up for me to go to because it was also the Portland Preservation Society’s 1-year party. Everyone brought treats and bloody mary fixins for the party.

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Recipe: Mandarin Orange, Cream Cheese, and Mint Appetizers

Over the weekend I enjoyed several different events with tasty food… however, this little treat was my favorite! My friends Joan and Brandon hosted a wine tasting at their home and created all of the appetizers to pair with local wines. Brandon is a taste master… this simple, and quick appetizer is a knock-out winner for any party, but especially with a Muscat wine from Purple Cow Vineyards.

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