Tag Archives: summer

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

Crumbled bacon

Crumbled bacon

Pasta Salad


Pasta salad Mise-en-place

Pasta salad mise-en-place


This pasta salad makes the best summer side dish, and the best part of it, you can prepare it ahead of time. This salad goes well with grilled New York strips or skirt steaks. In this recipe I am using the elbow pasta shape, but fusilli or bow ties are great alternatives. Put on your apron and let’s get cooking!

This recipe yields a large bowl of pasta salad, but the recipe can be divided in half to feed fewer people. 

Serves: 10 – 15 as a side dish

Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Prepping time from start to finish: 1 hour

Chilling time: 3-4 hours in the fridge


  • 1.5 lb. pasta, elbow shape, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 lb. of bacon, crumbled
  • 4 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise*
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsps. Mrs. Dash, Italian Medley, no sodium
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 


1) Bring pasta water to a boil. Add a handful of salt. Cook pasta al dente as per package’s direction.

2) Drain pasta well and pour it into a large mixing bowl.

3) Add all the ingredients and mix well.

4) Cover and chill in the fridge for a at least 3-4 hours. The colder the salad, the tastier it will be, and this will allow the flavors to infuse nicely.

Upon serving, remove from the fridge and drizzle more olive oil to moisten the salad.

* If you don’t like mayonnaise, substitute it with more olive oil, and add some red wine vinegar. It will be similar to a vinaigrette dressing. Taste and adjust the spices as needed.

Wine pairing suggestion: Pink Flamingo Rose made with 100% Grenache produced by Vranken Pommery. 

This refreshing wine boasts a summery salmon color, and offers aromas and flavors of berries, strawberries, peach and apricot.

I hope you will make this delicious pasta salad to bring to your next picnic. Please let me know how it turned out!

Happy Cooking & Sipping!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Scholar Student (Prep course and Unit 1 completed)
Winner of 2019 Italian Wines “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award, held in Puglia, Italy
Brand Strategist






Bites, Bubbly & Blogs

Since I am still fairly new at blogging, I decided to have a little get together in my kitchen with a couple of fellow (beginner) bloggers. We brainstormed and exchanged notes and ideas to help each other out. Angela will be blogging about food and wine and Barbara will be blogging about her amazing photography skills. I learned a lot from Angela’s organizational skills and computer knowledge, and Barbara taught me how to give my photographs some character and make them pop.  Their sites will be up and running soon, and I could not be more excited for them. From what I am seeing, bloggers help one another and are very supportive of each other.  That in itself is a big inspiration and motivates me to bring out my creative side.


Needless to say, we had fun in my “Gina’s Kitchen” with small bites and bubbly to celebrate our new ventures. Of course, we spent nearly two hours, on and off trying to get some great food shots. Thank goodness, Barbara was there to guide us and give us some useful tips in food photography. This takes practice, and one can only get better with time and lots of experience. I made a lovely lump crab meat salad “sans mayo” since Angela does not care for it. I know some of you are frowning but not all of us are created equal and that’s what makes life so interesting.

It is a very simple recipe that anyone can whip up in no time

  • 1 – 8 ounce jar lump crab meat
    you can also use imitation crab meat which works
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 TBS olive oil

Degree of difficulty: Very easy
Serves 4-6


Lightly break up lump crab meat, if you are using imitation crab, you can shred it with your hands for a nice presentation. Combine all the ingredients at once and chilled for at least one hour. For added richness, you can add some mayonnaise and whatever spice you like.


I also served some delicious smoked salmon with sliced cucumbers. They were light and tasty but most of all, they paired beautifully with the bubbly.

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Simple, yet sophisticated

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Barbara brought some delicious hummus with veggies and Angela made a very healthy and scrumptious salad with field greens, avocados, corn, cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts.

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It was a fun and productive day, especially in the company of two friends that I care for. I admire both for their lovely qualities and  generous hearts.

Stay tuned for more exciting blogs on food, wine and travels. Until next time, happy blogging from Gina’s Kitchen!







Home Away from Home, A Sweet Escape

This year, my hubby surprised me with a weekend getaway in beautiful Fort Lauderdale to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  It’s a thirty to forty-five minute ride from our home. Since a vacation requires a lot of planning and time off, this was the perfect escape to enjoy the sweet life, La Dolce Vita as I like to call it. Of course, I packed as if I was going away for two weeks. We stayed at the W hotel, a very chic hotel facing the pristine Fort Lauderdale Beach, with a modern look and  upscale amenities. Upon our arrival, we were greeted courteously by the hotel staff.  While waiting for our beachfront view room,  we sipped on champagne, (courtesy of the hotel) to kick off our celebration, and took a tour of the lovely pool area.


Shortly afterwards, we were notified that our room was ready, and could not wait to see it.  Well, we were blown away by a spacious and impeccably kept room, and a glass-encased peekaboo shower. Yes, nothing private about it, however, there was an option to order a curtain which we didn’t feel the need. The best part of course, was the spectacular view of the glistening ocean waves and the beautifully landscaped tropical palm trees. It was truly paradise on earth.

Postcard worthy view

Postcard worthy view


At nighttime, we took a stroll on the beach, and had dinner at the exotic Casablanca cafe. The ambiance was romantic, the decor had a Mediterranean flair with a gorgeous view of the ocean from afar. Hubby had a crab crusted mahi-mahi with a lobster sauce and I had a black grouper with a beurre blanc sauce (white wine, butter and shallots).  Both dishes were beautifully plated, very fresh and tasted delicious.



Black grouper with beurre blanc sauce


Crab crusted mahi-mahi

Crab crusted mahi-mahi

Friday morning we lounged around the pool at the hotel and savored some delicious hummus, tasty Ahi tuna tacos and enjoyed fabulous drinks.

Hummus platter

Hummus platter


Ahi tuna tacos



Around 2:30 PM, we headed to the spa for our massage and body wraps. It was ninety minutes of pure “bliss”,  and we both felt rejuvenated after this amazing pampering experience.


That evening, we ate dinner at a newly opened restaurant in the trendy Las Olas area called, Fork & Balls. A fun place but on the noisy side,  I recommend going there with a group of people.  They have a nice assortment of meatballs on their menu.

Meatballs over polenta

Meatballs over polenta

Afterwards, we went back to the W and played pool with some hotel guests. On Saturday, we basked in the sun and had a relaxing day. In the evening, we got dressed up and enjoyed some fine dining at Steak 954. We shared a Porterhouse steak paired with an elegant super tuscan wine.



Aged porterhouse for two

While eating dinner, we got a notification that someone dropped off a bottle of champagne for us at the front desk. It was a family member and a friend who came for a surprise visit.  We joined them for drinks and ended up at the hotel’s nightclub, Whiskey Blue. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful weekend away.



Whiskey Blue

Whiskey Blue

On Sunday morning, we ordered room service for breakfast  and sipped coffee on the balcony while enjoying the fabulous view of the ocean.  We, then packed our bags and headed back to our home, sweet home.

Life is beautiful, live it up!



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