Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dog Days of ...Spring

When the dog days of summer hit, my taste buds crave a particular species of food. I am more inclined to eat a tad bit healthier and a tad bit pickier. I understand that these dog days of summer haven't technically arrived yet, but if you live on the Northeast coast, you will know that on occasion, a summer day could hit at any striking moment, say, on March 10. Heck, we'll just call it the dog days of spring.

As an Ohioan, days like these are glorified. It is not abnormal to experience extremes of mild weather in a series of cold fronts. Virginia is similar. However, not nearly as gloomy, snowy, icy, rainy, and the works, Virginia comes to life with the heat at random too.

For instance, this Monday, the temperature hit a whopping 86 degrees. It's so funny to see the change in the community's demeanor. I whip out the shorts. Neighbors wave. Dogs wag their tails. Birds chirp. The usual vile, Virginian drivers that speed around you, block you in, cut you off being dangerously close even seem to change on a day like this. I guess we all become happy that our Vitamin D intake has been attained. 

On top of the community acting a little more civilized and humane, my belly becomes a little more civilized and humane in a sense. I no longer crave those hearty cold-weathered meals. My body cries for fresh fruit and veggies, and best of all, salads! Okay, okay, maybe a thought of ice cream pops into mind, but then I start to think of my body for swimsuit season!! Goodbye ice cream.

Therefore, on Monday, I made a favorite pasta salad dish that I learned how to make from my mother-in-law! I could live on it ALL summer. Add grilled chicken, and you are in for a treat!

Pasta Salad
Adapted from my M.I.L., Pattie P. :)

[This recipe makes a generous portion--because I could eat it for days on end...but it actually doesn't last very long at my house]

2 boxes tri colored pasta
1 Good seasons Italian dressing pack, prepared
1 seedless cucumber
1 carton grape tomatoes, halved
2 carrots, chopped
1-2 heads broccoli tops, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
[grilled chicken--I use Weber's Garlic & Herb rub for seasoning]

Prepare pasta according to package. Prepare Italian dressing according to package. Refrigerate. Meanwhile, chop up all veggies to desired size and amounts. Place in a separate bowl until the pasta has cooled in the the veggie bowl in fridge too, to keep cool when finished chopping. When all is cold, mix veggies and dressing into the pasta. Mix thoroughly, stirring so everything evenly distributes. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1/2-1 cup).

Best served cold & with extra cheese drizzled on top of each serving portion. Use chicken, if desired. Good it warm or cold!

...And I didn't let that craving for fresh fruit pass me by...

My friend Jenn introduced me to this pineapple gadget. What a device. I can't believe I never had one.

"Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella."

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