When salad becomes the main meal, one can achieve both good health and lose a few pounds. We love our salads and have found ways to make them more exciting, not just a plate full of lettuce with a chopped tomato on top. One trick we do is to make a huge salad and put it in a "Lock and Lock" plastic bowl with a tight fitting bowl. We tend to know the salad is already made, and we can dip out some at lunch and dinner. What do we put in bowl? Right now is a perfect time to pick up tomatoes from your favorite farmer's market, along with small red onions and cucumbers. Use different kinds of lettuce and pre-washed salad greens varying from spinach to arugula, cilantro leaves, romaine and baby bibb lettuces. Be sure all lettuces are as dry as possible. Iceberg is crunchy but has so much less food nutrients. I don't use it unless I am trying to stretch the amount of salad. Cut up the fresh veggies on top. We store salad for 3-5 days. We like Newman's Own Balsamic Lite salad dressing - very tasty with less calories also.Each week, we grill either a piece of salmon or a couple chicken breasts and have that with a salad for dinner. A couple of days later, I slice leftover salmon and chicken and put it on top of the salad...makes an excellent lunch treat.We love our Benbrook Farmer's Market and the delicious tomatoes. I grow basil so this is an easy and simple salad.Summertime Fresh Tomatoes with Basil and balsamic Vinegar4 large fresh garden tomatoes8 leaves fresh basil1/2 cup balsamic vinegarWash the tomatoes and remove the tops and place in a shallow covered dish with the basil leaves. Measure out the vinegar and place it in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate salad and vinegar until ready to eat. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and put back into dish. Chop basil. Drizzle the vinegar over the tomatoes and sprinkle with basil.We spruce up this basic simple dish by sometimes adding garlic croutons and mozzarella cheese on top.Dee Dee's Marinated Pasta SaladI have to confess that I love pasta salad. Marinating pasta salads are a delightful way to make ahead a great dish. Keep refrigerated, and it travels well if it can be kept cold.3/4 pound tricolor rotelle pasta1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil1/3 cup red wine vinegar1/2 teaspoon salt1 medium green bell pepper-seeded and chopped1/4 cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper1 small purple onion-chopped1/2 cup minced fresh parsley1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts1/4 cup sliced black olives4-5 leaves fresh basil, choppedFreshly ground black pepperIn a large pot of boiling salted water, over high heat, cook the pasta for 15 minutes or until al dente. (Overcooking turns the pasta to mush!) Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse quickly with cold water.Place the pasta in a large bowl and toss with the oil, vinegar and salt. Chill the pasta for one hour.Prepare the peppers, onion, parsley, artichoke hearts, olives and basil. When the pasta is cold, add those ingredients and toss well. Grind pepper to taste and mix salad once again.• Option that the Thompsons love:I boil large shrimp and shell them and de-vein each one. I chop the shrimp into large pieces and add to the salad. Who likes to pick out the shrimp? Well, maybe we all do.• Thank you to my friend Janie Fox for giving me yet another quick and easy dessert bundt cake recipe. I like to know that I can throw together a cake when I need a fast dessert. And this one is a winner.Janie's Butter Pecan Sweet Treat Bundt Cake1 box butter Pecan cake mix1 cup Toffee Bits1 cup chopped pecansGrease, or spray with Pam, AND flour a bundt cake pan. Make the cake according to the directions on the box. Into the batter, add the toffee bits and pecans. Pour into bundt cake pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.Next week I will feature the Mikester's favorite Greek salad, another favorite recipe!• Congratulations to the North Texas Daylily Society celebrating 25 years of growing beautiful daylilies, a most wonderful perennial. The next daylily sale will be held indoors at the Botanic garden on Sat., Sept. 28, beginning at 9 a.m. Come early for the best selections and before we run out.We finished the front yard project with lining the front flower bed with Austin stone and got the veggie garden totally cleaned out and now clear, with only several inches of organic vegetable mulch on top.I ordered some beautiful Iris and now I have more room to get the daylilies planted.Hurry up fall, we’re ready!