Easy Dessert Pasta and the Football Widow Goes to the Beach

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I’m prepping for a beach trip with a few other ladies and I thought I’d share this beautiful little pasta salad.  It’s a dessert salad but there is no mayo or marshmallows or weird stuff like in Midwestern dessert salads.  I mean, I like those salads, but this one seems healthier.  And because of the no mayo thing it is safe to take to the beach or on a picnic.

The recipe comes from me after piecing together what goes into a similar salad at the pasta salad stand at Roots Country Market in Manheim, PA.  The proprietor lists the ingredients but obviously not the measurements so I improvised. What I like about this salad is its versatility; the basic ingredients are just categories and you can customize the salad to your taste.

The main ingredients are:

  • 1 regular container of non-dairy dessert topping
  • 1/3 box of very small pasta (Pastina or Acini di Pepe)
  • Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, mini chocolate chips, etc. to taste

That’s it!  Thaw the dessert topping if it is frozen.  Cook the pasta and drain using a mesh strainer (you could use cheesecloth, too).  Rinse with cold water until the pasta is cool.

11715050_10153971189248098_236019134_o Tiny star pasta!

In a bowl, mix pasta, dessert topping, and fruit.  I used a package of sweetened dried blueberries, ½ c. fresh pitted and quartered cherries, and 1/2 c. cocoa almonds as well as a healthy sprinkle of chia seeds.

mmmm cocoa almonds  I know they have added sugar but these dried blueberries are so good!

I used this Pinterest trick to pit the cherries using a straw.  Not bad for a small batch, though it I was doing a lot of cherries I’d want to use a real pitter.

That’s it!  Refrigerate and serve cold.    Now, cross your fingers that I don’t get eaten by sharks out there!

Yum!

Yum!

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BU at LIU Post, or, Another Football Roadtrip

I often accompany Chuck when his football games are far away.  When his dad, brother, and/or friends cannot come in my stead.  As I have mentioned before, these road trips usually involve some kind of loving bribery that makes my company and navigational skills payment for a nice hotel room or a shopping spree or outrageously awesome dinner theater.  Yesterday, Bloomsburg played at Long Island University, Post Campus in Brookville, NY.  I tagged along and made sure to document the important parts.

First, the trip is long and full of tolls.  New Jersey and Staten Island are the worst offenders.  Normally, if you can avoid these places, do so.  And prepare yourself for the down time.  Fortunately, I am quite skilled at reading in the car.  Remember, I grew up road tripping – motion sickness is for wimps!  I finished A Dance with Dragons as we entered Nassau County, NY.

We decided to grab brunch as we had arrived a bit early.  The local diner had an hour wait, but then I noticed an IKEA and decided that meatballs would tide me over.  When out of town, I have a rule about never eating in a chain or franchise that I can visit at home.  In the sleepy mid-section of PA where we live, many novel stores and products take time to take root.  We have only recently discovered self-serve frozen yogurt bars!  IKEA is popular enough among my friends and family, but we have to drive to Philly or Baltimore to shop there and cannot get delivery.  Plus, those meatballs are bangin’.

Here is what I found in the parking lot at IKEA:

Do they make kitty Dalek stickers?

Best.  Family. Stickers.  Ever.

Then we went to the game.  BU won, the LIU Post fans were whiny and obnoxious, and a bunch of drunk students heckled everyone who walked to or from the guest seating.

I started reading Freakonomics and worked on some crosswords.  The campus of LIU Post is very pretty and wooded.  This area of “Lawn Guy Land” seems pretty swank.  There are lots of large houses and gated driveways.  Of course, the whole place is part of the flight path for JFK.  That would get old, fast.

Now, don’t laugh at me.  I have never been to NYC. If we had the money or time, we might have made this trip into a long weekend.  Alas, I never have the time or money.  I love the arts, I love cities, and I love history.  I know, I am a total bumpkin.  Look how excited I was just to drive past the city:

Central PA is a weird, ethnocentric type of place.  Most people here dislike New Yorkers  and city life in general.  I don’t think this type of billboard helps anyone overcome stereotypes:

Still, I find the city enchanting, even from a distance:

I abused my navigational powers and directed us to Manhattan.  We drove across the southern tip of the island and got stuck in terrible traffic.  I’ll blame the street festival we saw, but I know the city is not a place to bring a car.  Chuck was less than amused.  I thought it was beautiful, and I need to go back tomorrow.  Or ASAP.  Whatever.  I was busy looking at architecture but I did manage to snap a photo of us entering the New Holland Tunnel.

Okay, you can laugh at me now.

Football Road Trip to Ohio 2010 Part II

Tonight Chuck is going to another football game in New England because he is in New England and there is a football game there.

Instead of tagging along, I am hanging out with Chuck’s parents on their boat.    My FIL has had a boat on the Chesapeake Bay for more than 10 years.  The current boat, Final Review, is a beautiful trawler.  My Notorious MIL and I will probably stay until Monday.  We might shop, we will definitely eat out, and of course there will be pool time, lots of reading, and HGTV and TCM on TV.  Before you ask, the boat has cable when we are in the slip.  And a slip is like a parking spot for boats.  I’ll write a post about the boat later.

For now, I want to continue reminiscing about the Ohio road trip Chuck and I took two years ago over Labor Day Weekend.

After Toledo (not just a G-rated epithet) we went to Akron to see a football game there.  Actually, this game stands out because I thought their marching band was really good.  I am hardly a judge of such things, but I did go to a high school with a large marching band and a terrible football team so any games I went to back then typically ended after the halftime show because once the band was finished playing we went to the movies.  Also, they played Syracuse and so it was a game of ridiculous team nickname versus ridiculous team nickname.    An action and a color?  A fabric fastener and a citrus fruit?  These teams’ nicknames are not helping be visualize the fight.  And I need help getting into football because I don’t fully understand it (despite having just celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary) and I have a vivid imagination so I get distracted easily.

The Marching Band at Akron

Akron is the home of Goodyear Tires.  The founder of Goodyear built a beautiful estate, called Stan Hywet, which is now open to the public.  It reminded me a bit of Longwood Gardens – country home built by an industrialist, extensive flower gardens, great place for an expensive outdoor wedding, etc.  There is an indoor swimming pool, a tea house, and a player ORGAN (not piano).  The bathroom suite built for the male children is nicer than most you would see on HGTV.  There are flower beds and themed gardens throughout the estate and fresh flower arrangements in every room in the mansion.

Beautiful Stan Hywet

OH MY GOD THAT DAHLIA IS AS BIG AS MY HEAD

Aspen-Lined Path

Stan Hywet was lovely and I would love to see it in the spring, too.  Maybe when they develop a college football schedule similar to ice hockey?

Football Road Trip to Ohio 2010

Every year around Labor Day weekend there is a Big Special Game that involves a team that BU does not usually play.  This means that to get to the game, one of the teams has to travel.  Really far.  Today, Chuck is in Easton, MA to see the season opener.  Google tells me the game is the Bloomsburg Huskies at the Stonehill Skyhawks.  I’m kidding; I was actually planning to go along and once the plans changed, I kept the day off from work.  I worked on the kitchen and had someone hook up a propane line for my range.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a weekday off to tie up loose ends.

Two years ago this weekend I travelled with Chuck to Ashland University for the season opener.  It was an epic football weekend road trip.  Chuck scheduled four games in three days because moderation is not known in the football vernacular, and I tagged along because I guess he had no one else to bring along.

Actually, I had a great time.  I can read in the car and I love hotel rooms so as long as I have daylight and an indoor pool I will go anywhere.  I’m no stranger to “roughing it” but my husband always tries to keep me comfortable when I tag along on football-themed road trips.  So I usually milk him for a room with a Jacuzzi.

spa tub

Our hotel room in Kent, Ohio, 2010

If you ever have to drive through Ohio, one place you cannot miss is Mike’s Place.  This has nothing to do with football (well, if you are a Kent State fan or alum, it might), but has everything to do with kitsch and good food so actually, everyone wins.  If you do not love tacky, geeky, cluttered décor and hundreds of menu items, you probably just need to take an Adderall.    Leave extra time to explore the contents of the restaurant’s walls.

Me in front of the X-Wing Fighter at Mike’s Place in Kent, OH

We also went to Toledo, Ohio for a football game.

To make up for it, Chuck took me to the Toledo Museum of Art.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s either, “I don’t know anything about art so this new blog is clearly not for me,” or “Toledo, Ohio is not a place where any reputable artwork will be found.  C’mon.”  Well, you are wrong.  This experience more than met my expectations. The Chuck Close was not on display for some reason, but the collection includes works from many of my favorite artists, the special exhibits are accessible and interesting (when we were visiting this temporary exhibit featured 1960s psychedelic rock posters!), and the glass pavilion did not disappoint.  The Matisse mural “Apollo” was my favorite.

Me in front of the Matisse

My next post will be about the other things we did on our football roadtrip to Ohio in 2010.

Things I did today instead of driving the whole way to Massachusetts to watch a football game:

  • Stayed home from work anyway
  • Met the propane technician and hooked up the range in my new kitchen
  • Bought a newspaper and worked on the puzzles while eating a BLT in a booth at my favorite diner
  • Filled my new china hutch