Pasta Salad with Feta, Broccoli, Capers, and Chickpeas ~

Before I share my recipe with you today, I have a couple cute things to show you.

First, since I know you all wanted to see- Here’s a picture of our house!


Totally adorable, right? It definitely needs a new coat of paint, among other things. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the front yard for some pretty landscaping. I’ve never gotten to do that before so I’m so excited! Now I just have to figure out what we should do.

I’ll share more pics once we actually close on the house in a few months.

Being Elephant Eats, the second cute thing I want to show you is this video Nate sent me of a baby elephant’s first time in the ocean. All I can say is O.M.G. If our apartment weren’t so tiny, I’d be getting one of these as a pet:

And as for this meal, it’s a rare one that Nate actually helped pick out. You see, we have this routine every day where, before I leave work, I ask him what he’s in the mood for, and every day he says “I don’t know.”

I don’t know if most food bloggers are good about coming up with stuff, but I’m not. I absolutely hate trying to decide what to make for dinner. I have a million recipes pinned to my Pinterest boards, but when it’s actually time to choose something, nothing looks good.

Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Feta, Capers,and Chickpeas 2 ~

But on this particular day, without my even asking what he wanted for dinner, Nate actually told me he was in the mood for a cold pasta salad (it was really hot out!). I wasn’t one to deny the man his craving, when he was actually giving me dinner ideas, so I looked up some pasta salad recipes using feta since I already had it in my fridge.

Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Feta, Capers,and Chickpeas 2 ~

I came across this one that has all our favorite things in it and it sounded delicious. I doubled it, swapped blanched broccoli for the zucchini, and adjusted the quantities of the ingredients slightly and it was SO good. It helped that I was completely famished at dinner time.

Nate said he really liked it too, so this one’s a winner! Plus it was fairly quick to make. It will definitely be going into our usual rotation.

Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Feta, Capers and Chickpeas

Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

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Serves 6-8 as an entree

16 ounces pasta- I used medium shells
1 bunch of broccoli crowns, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
12 oz roasted red pepper, cut in small strips
2 cans (14 oz) chickpeas, drained
3 fl oz. capers, drained
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper

Boil water and put pasta in. 2 min before the pasta is al dente, throw the broccoli in with it. Drain pasta/broccoli and rinse in cold water to stop cooking and cool down the pasta.

In a large bowl, whisk vinegar and dijon. Whisk in olive oil.

Add pasta/broccoli, feta, peppers, chickpeas, capers and basil. Toss well and season to taste with salt/pepper. Serve room temperature or cold.

Broccoli Salad

This weather is disgusting.

When you wake up it’s already 80 degrees out, and by noon it’s 90. It just doesn’t feel right turning on the oven to cook. So it’s good to have a bunch of no-cook, cold, fresh salad recipes in your recipe box.

Salsa and tabouli are both great for this purpose, and this recipe is another good one.

Broccoli Salad

You need to make this a day ahead to give the broccoli time to marinate and soften. I didn’t realize this when I was making the recipe, so I blanched it as a shortcut. I recommend following the directions though :)

On a side note, did you know that sometimes pignoli nuts can cause you to have a bitter taste in your mouth for days? Yeah, I didn’t either until it happened to me. It’s not ALL pignoli nuts, but apparently some are affected.

I  also don’ t know if it only affects some people (since Nate didn’t seem to notice it) or if I’m just hyper aware of tastes, but it was disgusting. All food tasted bad/bitter until it wore off several days later. It probably didn’t help that I continued to eat this for 3 days until I realized that the pignoli nuts were the cause. Don’t let that this stop you from making this recipe, and I hope I haven’t in any way affected your love of these tasty little seeds.

On another note, I worked on more wedding crafts this weekend! I have to say they came out super cute…here’s a sneak peak.

I also had my wedding hair trial appointment today. I don’t know what I want to do! I hate making decisions.

Nate is pretty set on having me wear my hair down, and since he hasn’t asked for much I feel like I should honor his request. i know I want it off my face though, so maybe some sort of half up, half down thing? I think I want some loose waves.

The hairdresser showed me a few options. I defintely don’t want anything complex…I’m a simple girl.

Broccoli Salad


Cold Broccoli Salad

From mom’s recipe box (original source unknown)

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Serves 6

1 head broccoli, cut in 1″ pieces
1/2 cup sliced black olives
4 thin-sliced radishes
1/4 cup pignoli nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
tomato wedges for garnish

Soak broccoli in salted water for 10-15 min. Drain.

Add olives, nuts.

Combine oil, vinegar, and seasonings to make dressing.

Marinate broccoli for five or more hours, chilled.

Add rest of ingredients before serving.

Have you been looking for a way to use up the leftover buffalo sauce from the wings you made for Superbowl Sunday?

What! You bought wings?? If that’s the case, I’m honestly not sure why you’re reading a cooking blog. Homemade wings are one of THE easiest things to make.

I know, I didn’t used to think so either, but I have the BEST recipe for baked wings that will rival the fried ones at your favorite wings spot. I’ll have to share it sometime soon…

But, if you do have some leftover sauce (or just think this recipe looks so tasty that you want to go out and buy some), then this is the recipe for you.

I never really eat chicken wings but I made buffalo-style chicken thighs the other day and was reminded of how much I love buffalo sauce. Like, I could eat straight spoonfuls of it. Yum.

But even with my wing-making and straight-sauce-eating, there was still a bit left at the bottom of the bottle. So when I saw this recipe the other day, I knew I had to make it.

I wanted to healthify it a bit, so I added some chopped broccoli. And I shredded the chicken because I hate giant chunks of chicken in pasta.

It has the basic delicious, creamy mac n’ cheese taste with a hint of an undiscernable kick to it. You definitely should pour drizzle some more buffalo sauce on top when it comes out of the oven if you like it as much as I do. Nate just ate it as-is which is totally fine too.

Make this tonight!

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Print here!

serves 4-6

1 pound pasta
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast (about 2.5 large boneless breasts)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 + 1/3 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)+ more for topping
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

for garnish: 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, additional buffalo wing sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions. Put drained pasta back in pot.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color.

Add milk. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly until it thickens. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated cheese and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Spray a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine) with non-stick spray.

Add chicken and broccoli into pot with pasta, then pour cheese sauce over and mix throughly until everything is coated. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately top with gorgonzola and green onions. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.

Broccoli Chicken Cheese Braid ~

I’ve been hoping I’d come across a recipe to use that leftover chicken breast I had from a different recipe that was all cooked and chopped in the freezer.

So when I was doing my usual browsing on Pinterest yesterday and came across a pic that looked tasty, I was excited to see its main ingredient was 2 cups of chopped chicken!

I checked out the rest of the recipe and it seemed like it couldn’t be more simple. It was 6 ingredients and only took 30 min to bake.

Broccoli Chicken Cheese Braid ~

Since you all know I’ve been super busy and short on time, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to finally get a blog post up.

Broccoli Chicken Cheese Braid ~

This turned out totally delicious and I think it’s extremely kid friendly! I hope you enjoy :)

P.S. Sorry the color in my pictures stinks. For a more appetizing view of this recipe, click on the Food Family Finds link below.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Braid

Adapted from Food Family Finds

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serves 5

2 cans Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls or 2 cans Pillsbury seamless sheet
2 cups chicken chunks, cooked
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 10-oz box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, spread both cans of crescents, sealing the long edge of one sheet to the long edge of the other.

Press each of the seams to form a single layer of dough.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, cheese, broccoli and mayonnaise

Spread mixture over the center of the croissant dough evenly to create a log. It should be in a rectangle perpendicular to the seam.

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut horizontal strips 1 inch apart down each side of the crescent dough bordering the chicken mixture.

Fold the end up and over the chicken. Then fold the dough strips over the top of the chicken mixture, alternating left and right to create a braid.

Brush the top of the braid with a beaten egg yolk.

Bake for 28 – 30 minutes until golden brown. 

Nate has told me before that the dinner he always looked forward to his mom making when he was growing up was pasta with sausage and tomato sauce, with broccoli and garlic bread. So when his 30th birthday was fast approaching, I knew this is the meal I would make for him.

However, when we were down at the shore visiting my parents the weekend before his bday, my mom made a delicious red sauce, and being that Nate’s bday was only a couple days later, I asked him for his next choice.

He told me his second favorite pasta sauce is a light garlic sauce. I immediately thought of a sausage and broccoli rabe combo…but Nate insisted on broccoli. And I’m not one to argue with the Birthday Boy.

*As some readers have pointed out, this sauce wasn’t actually a garlic sauce, but when I set out to make the recipe I thought it was. The sausage and chicken broth impart a seasoned/salty flavor that tastes a lot like a light garlic sauce but without all the oil. And if you really wanted, you’re more than welcome to add garlic!

I knew I wouldn’t have much time to cook when I got home from work, so I did all my market shopping the day before. It’s not like me to do this, but I bought some premade garlic bread…you know the one that comes in foil that you put right in the oven? It made my life a whole lot easier. This really came together super quickly and is perfect for dinner on a birthday, or any day of the year!

Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli
Adapted from Gourmet (3/06)

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Makes 4-6 servings


cooking spray
1 lb italian turkey or pork sausage, casings discarded and sausage crumbled
1/2 lb broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb dried pasta (whatever shape you desire)
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 oz finely grated Pecorino Romano (1/2 cup) plus additional for serving

Spray a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water. When pasta is al-dente, remove using a slotted spoon and set aside. Add broccoli to the pasta water and blanch, 1 min.  Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain broccoli in a colander.

Add broccoli to sausage in skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 1-2 min. Add broth, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined. Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if desired.

Serve immediately, with additional cheese on the side.