Make Ahead Meals – Part 5: Purple Reign? Three Recipes to Try

The Lonely Keyboard

So there I was: hanging out, posting some blogs when — WHAM! It hit me! The End of the School Year! And suddenly, all of my own personal extra-curricular activities stopped. Hence the lull in my posts.

But my kids still need to eat, so the cooking (and eating out) continued.

Oh yes. I ‘phone it in’ — a lot. Over the past few days, we had sushi one night; the kids had chicken nuggets when the Hubs and I went out with friends; we had hot dogs at a baseball game.

But I did make a couple of yummy dishes that I wanted to share with you:

Purple, Mayo-free Potato Salad

Purple Potatoes

Purple Potatoes

My daughter and I spied these purple beauties while shopping on Sunday. Immediately, I thought to myself: “Will the kids eat these?!????” I just had to give them a try. When I brought them home and my 6yo spotted them on the counter, he was also intrigued. So my hopes were high. I mean — just look at how beautiful they are!

Purple Potatoes

Purple Potatoes

Since I was trying this as part of another make-ahead meal, I didn’t want to roast or grill them. A potato salad seemed to be in order. But I wanted one that is mayo-free, as I was pairing it with crab rolls for dinner (don’t worry — I’ll get to those crab rolls in a minute.)

I found this recipe for Mayo-free Picnic Potato Salad online and used it as my launching point to come up with this:

Mayo-Free Purple Potato Salad

Mayo-Free Purple Potato Salad


  • 1 lb Purple Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • fresh chives, chopped
  • chopped red onion
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • fresh spinach, chopped (a handful or two depending on how many greens you’re trying to get into your kids)
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • salt (to taste)


  1. Boil the potatoes until they’re tender. When done, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, put the vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, basil, salt and pepper into an old jelly jar and shake the dressing until it’s well-mixed. (this works even better when there’s some funk music playing on the iPod.)
  3. Put potatoes, red onion, tomatoes, spinach & chives into a large bowl. Toss with dressing. (I only used about 1/2 the dressing — and think I could have used even less.)
  4. Fold in feta cheese and chives until well-blended.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

*ps: I made this in the morning. Total time: about 15 minutes.

*ps2: I initially stuck to the original recipe, but thought the results were a bit — well… icky-looking (here’s the before picture.) Before the Tomatoes and Spinach That’s why I added the spinach and tomatoes to give it a little color. I think it helped in the presentation (and the taste!)

The results: My 5 yo son ate every bite. My 3 yo daughter ate it, under duress of a potentially canceled dessert. The 6 yo who spied the potatoes on the counter and thought they were ‘awesome!’ didn’t want anything to do with them. The Hubs liked it but quipped: “you can’t taste the purple!”

He shouldn’t worry. There are some leftover purple potatoes still in my pantry. We’ll come up with something he’ll like.

Crab Salad Sandwiches

Crab Salad Sandwiches

Crab Salad Sandwiches

I teamed the potato salad with some crab salad sandwiches. These were supposed to be crab rolls, but after I made the crab salad I found my hot dog rolls had gone moldy. So I improvised and put it on some yummy whole-grain bread from the bakery.

Here’s the recipe I used — from one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple. And true to the magazine’s motto: it really was Real Simple. Total time to whip this up and throw in the fridge: 10 minutes (15 minutes with a preschooler tugging at your leg.)

Results: These were a success with my boys who even ate second-and-third helpings of the crab salad by the spoonful. My 3yo was a tougher sell and actually spit it out. My husband said he would have preferred it on the hot dog buns. Personally, I felt these sandwiches would have benefited from some crisp lettuce and thick slices of tomato.

photo 1-4

photo 2-4

But I liked that I could make these in advance and that they were ready to pull out of the fridge after a busy day. And I really like how summery they are — perfect for dinner after a day at the pool! (or even for a picnic at the pool!)

photo 4-3

Orzo Salad with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Olives

Orzo Salad with Spinach, Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Orzo Salad with Spinach, Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

My dear friend was coming for dinner, so I made a tried-and-true family favorite: Cooking Light’s Honey Chicken Thighs. (I make this minus the spicy ingredients — they can’t be easier.)

But I needed a quick-and-easy side dish. If you’ve been reading this blog closely, you already know where I went for inspiration– the pantry!

I found a box of orzo, a package of sun-dried tomatoes and a can of black olives. Then I hit the fridge and found the spinach. Voila!


  • 1/2 box of orzo
  • parmesan cheese (handful)
  • red onion (to taste)
  • chopped fresh spinach (a handful)
  • 1 can of large black olives, chopped (minus whatever ones you eat while chopping — for me, this is quite a few)
  • olive oil (a drizzle)
  • salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 package sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I think the package I used was 6 oz)


  1. Boil the orzo until it’s al dente. Run under cold water so it stops cooking.
  2. Toss with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Chill before serving.

Total prep time: About 10 minutes.

Results: I really liked this dish, but the Hubs isn’t a fan of sun-dried tomatoes. So he was just so-so on this. My 6yo picked all of the tomatoes out, but liked the rest of it. My 3yo daughter loved it. And my 5 yo — who adamantly does not like orzo — LOVED this (I think it had something to do with the savory olives and sun-dried tomatoes!)

Something I might try the next time: I’ll make this again — but will use fewer sun-dried tomatoes. And if I want to make this dish pool-side picnic ready for the summer, I might toss in some shredded chicken and sprinkle it all with some fresh lemon juice.

Here it is plated with the honey-chicken and some steamed green beans with almonds. Pretty, right?

photo 2-5

Let me know what’s cookin’ in your kitchen!

Happy eatings!


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