Tag Archives: Labor Day

Caprese Pasta Salad

Labor Day weekend has come and gone.  Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer here in the USA, and sure enough, our weather is a little cooler today with a temperature of 54°F.

I usually would have grilled steaks or burgers for a Labor Day dinner.  But since there was no family gathering due to the pandemic, I made this Caprese Pasta Salad for a simple and easy dinner.

This Caprese Pasta Salad combines the flavors of a classic Caprese salad with the addition of pasta.  The Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil seasoned with salt and olive oil.

This salad is a nice change from all of the pasta salads that have mayonnaise in the dressing.  It has plenty of freshness in it with the  fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and a delicious balsamic vinegar dressing.  It is also quick and easy to make.

I was gifted a bottle of olive oil (Tuscan Herb Oil flavor) from The Olive Mill in Saugatuck, Mi.  The Tuscan Herb Oil flavor is a wonderful mix of  olive oil, oregano, garlic. and basil.  I used some of that olive oil in the vinaigrette dressing for one of the salads I made.

The dressing can be easily doubled if you prefer more dressing for the pasta.

Caprese Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1- 12 ounce box tri-color Rotini pasta

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned black pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder

1 pint (about 1 cup) multicolored cherry tomatoes), halved
1 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (drained if packed in water)

1/8 cup chopped fresh basil

Cook Rotini pasta according to the package directions.  Drain pasta in a collander and rinse with cold water.  Transfer to a large serving bowl.  Set aside while making the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to combine.

Add the  cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese pearls, and basil to the Rotini.  Pour the dressing over pasta and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.  Store leftovers in a covered container in refrigerator.  

1.  You can substitute the mozzarella cheese pearls  with bocconcini or fresh mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes.
2.  I used white balsamic vinegar instead of the regular dark balsamic vinegar.  Here is an interesting article from Old Town Olive about the difference between white and dark balsamic vinegar.

Below are some early morning visitors that came by this morning as I was working on this blog post: a mama deer and her two young ones.  Be safe everyone.

Teriyaki Beef Shish Kabobs

It has been a busy summer but one that included a week at a small lake north of Grand Rapids.  It is a very pretty lake surrounded by the Pere Marquette forest, home to lots of wildlife. I was always the first one up and while having coffee was delighted to see two cute twin fawns.  They came by the cottage several times. No one else in the family ever saw them. Oh well, they should have gotten up early too. Loons and herons came around the dock everyday and a black squirrel showed up on the deck several times.


loon 4

>black squirell

It was a fun family getaway with lots of good grilled food and one night homemade personal pan pizzas were on the menu.



On a day trip we discovered Mr. Pibs Restaurant, a country restaurant that has the best fried chicken. It is actually chicken cooked using a pressure fryer and is chicken at its best. Mr. Pibs Restaurant is a family style restaurant located on the White Pine Trail in LeRoy, Michigan. It is home cooking in a down to earth family diner. This restaurant is way out in the country and the patrons are locals and farmers from the area.

fried chicken

Now it seems like the end of summer is here, especially with it being September.  But it is not too late to have a cookout before summer’s end. Grilled beef kabobs are a family favorite.  Beef kabobs consist of small pieces of meat and vegetables threaded onto skewers and grilled. I very seldom order kabobs in a restaurant because the beef is usually overcooked, dry and chewy. That is why I like grilling them myself at home.

kabobs 3

“Kebabs are thought to have originated in Turkey and eventually spread to the Balkans and the Middle East. The name is a shortened form of the Turkish sis kebab, sis meaning skewer and kebab meaning roast meat.” Source

If you are looking for something different to grill for the upcoming Labor Day holiday, these kabobs are easy to prepare and perfect for a cookout. True shish kabobs are often made with pieces of marinated lamb but I believe that beef is the meat of choice in the USA and that is what we prefer.


Teriyaki Beef Shish Kabobs

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 lb beef tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 medium green pepper, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 medium red pepper, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 medium  onion, cut into wedges
1 cup fresh pineapple cut in 1 inch chunks, optional

1 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce and Marinade

Cut beef into 1-inch cubes and place in a large zip-loc plastic bag. Pour 1 cup of the teriyaki marinade over the beef cubes. Press air out of the bag and close top securely. Turn bag over several times to coat all pieces of the beef. Refrigerate 2 hours, turning bag over occasionally.

When ready to cook, preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Alternately thread beef and vegetables evenly onto 12-inch metal or bamboo skewers. Thread the pineapple chunks on a separate skewer.

Grill the kabobs and pineapple over direct medium high heat until cooked to desired doneness, 7 to 10 minutes, turning once. Serve with yellow rice if desired.

1. If using bamboo skewers, soak the skewers in water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning on the grill.
2. Allow the kabobs to come to room temperature before grilling.

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