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April 28, 2011 / Asimplemother

What to Pack for the Playground. And a Great Summer Salad Recipe

As the weather warms up and we are granted more days to visit the park, play at the playground or walk along a lake, it’s time to have a standby packing list and bag to get us quickly out the door to enjoy the sunshine.  And with the horrible weather we have been having, I can not wait to get out and enjoy the sun!

But it never fails that I see some poor mom dragging a huge bag (or two!) from the car to the playground area. I just want to tell her, “There’s no camping in the park.”  All joking aside, why carry so much stuff?  A few basics, some water and snacks, and you should be good to go!

All of these items fit in my small diaper bag (necessities and food). 

What’s In My Bag?

2 Diapers + wipes (We’re only going to be gone for a couple of hours. A spare is always good)
Sunscreen
A summer hat
1 extra pants
1 extra short-sleeved shirt
A small towel
Medium size blanket – for the ground
Waterless Hand Soap, like Cucina

Food and Drinks – Gotta Have a Picnic. That’s 1/2 the Fun!

We enjoy sharing our lunch together. And, a good rest is always in store.  Nothing like catching some sun after a hard hour’s work of playing, swinging and climbing. 

A Granola Bar
2 Bottles of water – one for my daughter and one for me
1 Container of cut-up fruit
1 Container of chicken pasta salad (recipe below)
1 Fork
5 Napkins

Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

My daughter loves this salad. And it makes a lot – so you can save it for your lunch or for a quick dinner. About 8 servings.

The salad can easily be made in about 1/2 hour. I cut-up and prepare my veggies while the noodles are cooling.  A quick tip on cooling your noodles. After draining them, place them in a bowl with cold water and ice cubes for a few minutes. Then drain again and let sit. Do not leave them in the cold water as they will get mushy. 

You’ll need a large bowl and a big spoon for mixing the salad together.

Ingredients

1 box of spiral pasta (I use Barilla Plus, but any pasta is OK)
1 Pound of Chicken – I have used rotisserie chicken, canned chicken, and chicken breasts – all work great) – Cooled
1 – 5 0z. can of sliced black olives
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes – halved
1 bunch of green onions – white and green parts diced
1 container of fresh mushrooms – sliced
1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
2 cups of light or fat-free Italian Dressing
1 TBSP of Italian or Pizza Seasoning

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside to completely cool.  Make sure to give it a little stir to avoid it from sticking together. Or, drizzle about 1 tsp of olive oil over them and stir to prevent sticking.  Cut-up, dice or separate with a fork the chicken and add it to the bowl.  Drain the olives and place in bowl.  Drain the artichoke hearts. Using a kitchen scissors or knife, cut the hearts into smaller pieces.  Add to the bowl.  Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and onions.  Stir together.  Mix in cooled pasta noodles and stir.  Next, add the cheese and stir.  Finally, add the dressing and seasoning and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least four hours before serving to give the seasonings time to absorb.  Give it a quick stir before serving.

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