Salads, Side Dishes

8 Must Try Summer Salads

8 Must Try Summer Salads

Summer is the season of BBQs and potlucks and that means delicious side salads are a must! I have compiled my eight favorite salad recipes from my blog including pasta, potato, and even some veggie-based ones. I could eat these for lunch or dinner all summer long. All of these salads will be having your friends and family coming back for seconds!

Asparagus and Feta Salad

Asparagus and Feta Salad
Grilled asparagus tossed in a lemon olive oil dressing and topped with feta cheese.

 

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad
Rotini noodles and lots of veggies tossed in Italian dressing.

 

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad
A summer classic! Macaroni noodles and crunchy veggies tossed in a creamy dressing.

 

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad
This broccoli salad is the perfect balance of crunchy and creamy, and sweet and salty. Broccoli tossed with bacon, craisins, and sunflower seeds.

 

Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad
Peas tossed in a creamy dressing with bacon, craisins, and peanuts.

 

Orzo Pesto Pasta

Orzo Pesto Pasta
One of my all time favorites! Cooked orzo pasta tossed with pesto, cooked zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and feta.

 

Potato Salad

Potato Salad
This potato salad has the perfect amount of creaminess and best of all BACON! Sort of like a loaded baked potato but in a salad.

 

Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw

Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw
Sweet + Salty+Tangy + Crunchy = Delicious and Unique Coleslaw

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Brunch, Sandwiches

Recipe—Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Chicken & Waffle Sliders

It seems silly writing a post for a recipe that is basically made up of frozen store bought items but this is such a fun and easy dish to prepare for brunch, lunch, or even an appetizer so I just had to share, for a creative idea I suppose more than anything. 😉

I recently made them for a mimosa brunch and everyone loved them! Who doesn’t love the sweet and salty combination of a classic comfort dish in bite size portions?!? You can certainly make these from scratch, and I will probably try sometime soon, but it would obviously be far more work and you would end up having way more dirty dishes. Having such an easy dish allows you to focus more attention to preparing other items or even enjoying an extra mimosa or three.

Note: A box of Eggo Minis Waffles has 10 waffles and each one is divided up into 4 mini waffles for a total of 40 mini waffles which will yield 20 sliders.

INGREDIENTS
20 frozen chicken nuggets
box of frozen Eggo Minis Waffles
20 blackberries
20 toothpicks
1/2 c maple syrup

STEPS

  • Bake chicken nuggets per package instructions.
  • Toast the Eggo waffles per package instructions.
  • As the waffles finish toasting separate them into the 4 mini waffles.
  • Sandwich a chicken nugget between two waffles.
  • Skewer a blackberry with a toothpick and then the secure the waffle slider.
  • Drizzle with maple syrup.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Blackberry Ice Cream

Blackberry Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is so easy to make and yet people hardly ever do it. I mean look, 4 ingredients and 3 steps. There is really nothing quite like homemade fresh churned ice cream. As a kid I grew up with an old school hand cranked ice cream maker. My mom would add all the ingredients to the metal container and then we would put it in a wooden bucket and surround that with ice and salt and my sister and I would take turns churning it by hand. Best. Summer. Memories. Ever! Anyone else do that growing up?

Now I have evolved with the times and have a wonderful electrical ice cream maker. You just add in the ingredients, plug it in, and watch it go! I have this one by Cuisinart and LOVE it!

My favorite time to use it is during the summer when we have friends over for a BBQ. The kids always love watching it and they think it is so cool to make their own homemade ice cream!

I’ve tried several different recipes, mint chip, vanilla, strawberry, mocha almond fudge, cookies and cream, vanilla, and then this blackberry ice cream recipe. I think blackberry has been my all-time favorite! It is truly the flavor of summer.

Blackberry Ice Cream

Notes: I use fresh blackberries but you can always get frozen ones and defrost them. This recipe is for a 2 quart maker so if you have a 5 quart you may want to double it.

INGREDIENTS
3 c blackberries
1 1/2 c sugar
1 pint half and half
1 pint heavy whipping cream

STEPS

  • Combine the blackberries and sugar in a large bowl.
  • Mash all the blackberries and sugar by hand until they are all juicy and syrupy. (You can also place the berries and sugar in a blender if you prefer.)
  • Pour the blackberry mixture, half and half, and heavy whipping cream into your ice cream maker and churn until it is desired thickness.
Salads

Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw

Sweet + Salty+Tangy + Crunchy = Delicious and Unique Coleslaw

I am always looking for new and tasty side dishes to serve up throughout the summer. One day on Pinterest I stumbled upon a recipe for apple bacon coleslaw. I did some more poking around and actually found that there were lots of variations of this type of recipe out there. In true Diva form I pulled from several of the recipes and came up with this one. It, of course, is the best. 😉

Not only did the flavors compliment each other well but so did the textures. Coleslaw usually tends to all be the same consistency but the sweet apples added a really nice crunch to the mix and went so well with the salty bacon and tang from the dressing. I really like to enjoy this dish with some BBQ chicken or ribs for a perfect summer meal.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c cider vinegar
1 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sugar
1/4 orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1 fennel bulb, shredded
1 cabbage head, shredded
6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c parsley leaves, chopped
4 firm apples, chopped

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper until most of the sugar is dissolved.
  • Place the fennel, cabbage, bacon, green onions, parsley, and apples together in a bowl and mix together.
  • Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss to coat.
  • Cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

If you think this recipe looks great then check out these ones too!

Kohlrabi Dill Coleslaw

Crunchy Pea Salad

Broccoli Salad

Dinners

Recipe—Low Cal Cincinnati Chili

 

It’s the dreaded time of year where I make an effort to eat healthier with the hopes I can fit into the same shorts I was wearing last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer, it is just such a disappointment when you go to put on your super cute shorts and they just don’t quite fit like they did the last summer. Blah.

This year I am determined to get better at cooking healthier meals that I, as well as my family, want to eat. I find that I frequently get into salad ruts. I am trying to get it out of my head that you can eat more than salads and still eat healthy and satisfying meals. So one thing I have been doing is substituting lean ground turkey and chicken for beef in more recipes. I made this Cincinnati chili with ground turkey and it turned out amazing. My husband and son didn’t even know it wasn’t beef. Point for mom!

The meat is cooked in so many spices that no one would know it wasn’t beef unless you told them. I love that this recipe is super flavorful and also satisfying and that it makes the whole kitchen smell amazing! Plus the leftovers for the next two days made awesome lunches at less than 450 calories a pop. #winning

Note: I am not from Cincinnati, nor have I ever had authentic Cincinnati chili. I know there are individuals who are very particular about their Cincinnati chili and how it is prepared. I am not claiming this as “authentic” Cincinnati chili, I am just claiming this to be a damn good recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped (divided)
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c water
spaghetti noodles
cheddar cheese, shredded

STEPS

  • In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place the ground turkey in the pot and cook for about 8–10 minutes making sure to break up the chunks with a spatula.
  • Add in most of the chopped onion and cook for 3–4 minutes. (Note: Save a couple tablespoons of the onion for garnish.)
  • Once the onion has had a chance to cook add in the tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and water.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add water as needed to keep the mixture “saucy.”
  • Serve the sauce over cooked noodles and garnish with shredded cheddar and some chopped onions.
Appetizers

Recipe—Herbed Cucumber Bites

I have been wanting to host a tea party type of event and this year Easter was the perfect occasion. We were just having a couple of people over so I did all sorts of small bites. So fun and classy! The cucumber rounds were one of my faves! They were so light and refreshing and reminded me of the typical cucumber sandwiches you would have at a tea party, minus the rye bread. These are definitely the perfect snack for bridal showers, baby showers, or an afternoon tea.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
1/4 c fresh dill (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp dill pickle juice (just the stuff form the jar)
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
parsley to garnish (optional)

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl beat together the cream cheese, dill, pickle juice, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and green onion until smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag.
  • Pipe the herbed cream cheese mixture onto each cucumber round.
  • Garnish each cucumber with a sprig of parsley on top.
  • Serve immediately or cover and store in the fridge until ready to enjoy.
Dinners

Recipe—Easiest Beef Enchiladas Ever

Over the summer the wonderful people at Del Real sent me a massive party box of all sorts of wonderful goodies to try out. One of the items was a package of seasoned shredded beef (carne deshebrada). As soon as I saw it I thought to myself, “wow, having cooked and seasoned meat all ready to go would make enchiladas a total breeze!”

I decided to try and simplify the usually overly complex enchilada process. The name of this recipe describes it to a “t.” I am a huge fan of enchiladas. I make them fairly regularly but when I do the kitchen ends up in total disarray because of all the work that goes into them. This recipe uses only 5 ingredients but makes enough food to feed a small army.

Note: This recipe makes about 12 enchiladas. Since there are only 2 1/2 people in our household I cooked 4 that night and then put the rest into two 8” x 8” foil containers and froze them. That is 3 nights worth of dinner for about $5 a meal. Who can beat that? Cheap and easy. That is my style.

INGREDIENTS
32 oz package Del Read Shredded Beef
12 soft taco sized flour tortillas
2 (28 oz) can Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce (red or green)
4 c jack cheese, shredded
1 c black olives, sliced

STEPS

  • Heat the meat per package instructions.
  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • After the meat is done cooking transfer it to a large bowl and toss with 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce.
  • Spray your baking dish(es) with a non stick spray or lightly grease.
  • Pour enough enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish(es) to cover the bottom.
  • On a large cutting board, lay a tortilla out flat and add a scoop full of meat and sprinkle with cheese and a few of the sliced olives.
  • Roll up the enchilada and place seam side down in your “sauced up” bake dish and repeat until you are out of ingredients.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the tops of the enchiladas.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese and olives.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and finish off in the oven for another 10–15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted and just starting to brown.
  • Allow the enchiladas to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Top with sour cream or guacamole if desired.

A huge thank you to Del Real for giving me the opportunity to try out several of your products. I love them all! You guys rock!