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—Strawberries & Cream Poke Cake

Strawberries & Cream Poke Cake

Fourth of July is right around the corner and that means it is summer party season! I absolutely love this time of year. Days sat around the pool, getting together with friends, and the awesome party food. Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, garlic bread… yumm! But what is a summer BBQ without an amazing summer dessert? Crap. That’s what it is. I kid! I kid! For real though, every good bbq needs a good dessert. Like this one.

Beings that strawberries are in season this makes it the perfect summer dessert. If you have never made a poke cake then this recipe is a must try. It is so easy to make! You literally just poke holes into the baked cake and all the Jello just fills in the holes and soaks into the cake. It is incredibly moist and it just looks so pretty once you cut into it. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost. 😉

INGREDIENTS
1 box white cake mix (as well as any ingredients it requires)
3 oz package strawberry Jello
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
fresh strawberries, sliced

STEPS

  • Prepare white cake per the package instructions in a 9” x 13” large square or rectangular baking dish and allow it to cool.
  • Bring one cup of water to a boil and remove from heat.
  • Add Jello to the hot water and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Add one more cup of cold water to the Jello mix, continue to stir, and set aside.
  • Using a fork, poke several holes into the cake.
  • Pour the Jello evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Cover the cake with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
  • After the cake has set, combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until the whip cream thickens up.
  • Spread the whip cream over the top of the cake and then garnish with sliced strawberries as desired.
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Recipe adapted from Chef in Training.

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.
Dinners

Recipe—Rustic One Pot Veggie Pasta

Are you noticing a trend with all my new recipes? I think quick and easy has become my thing. As you may recall reading on my post, “The Diva is Back,” my blog fell to the wayside for a couple of years because life was just too crazy. Juggling work, youth sports, and well… just life, I have been all about quick, yet quality, meals. Don’t get me wrong, I still love spending time in the kitchen cooking for hours but 5 days a week I find myself short on time and energy at the end of the day.

This recipe is great for so many reasons. It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and you end up with a veggie packed delicious dinner. This isn’t one of those “one pot” recipes where you cook something in a pot, transfer it to a plate, cook something else, transfer it back to the pot, you catch my drift. You literally throw almost all the ingredients into one pot and cook it all together. So to recap, you eat a delicious dinner and then have almost no dishes to wash. Win win! Now you can spend that extra time cozied up on the couch with a glass of wine (or beer) and unwinding from your crazy day.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb spaghetti noodles
2 c white mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and halved
2/3 c frozen peas
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c heavy cream

STEPS

  • In a large pot combine noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, thyme, and 4 1/2 cups of water.
  • Season the water with salt and pepper.
  • Set the stove to high heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered until the pasta is cooked through, about 9–11 minutes, making sure to stir every couple of minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove the sprigs of thyme.
  • Stir in the parmesan and heavy creamy until well combined and the cheese melted.
  • Serve immediately topped with some extra parmesan.

 

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious. 

Dinners, Soups

Recipe—Crock-Pot Green Chicken Chili

A while back I had plans with my aunt to come over for dinner on a Friday night. She wanted to make a special request for dinner and had asked me to make a chicken chili. Since I had to work that day I figured something in the crock-pot would be ideal. Less time slaving in the kitchen, meant more time for drinking wine and schmoozing. Besides chopping up the veggies this recipe really requires almost no prep. I found a few different recipes and merged them all together to make this one delicious one. You might look at the ingredients and go “Oh boy, that is gonna be spicy!” I promise you it is not. If you deseed and devein the jalapeños you get a real nice mild and tangy flavor. The big chunks of chicken, all those green veggies, white beans, and spices make for one delicious belly warming meal. I highly recommend serving this with some cheese quesadilla wedges or cornbread to round out dinner. It was a total hit in my household. So if you are doing your meal prep for next week be sure to add this recipe to your menu.

Note: When I made this recipe, I chopped up the tomatillos, chiles, jalapeños, onion, and garlic and put them all in a one gallon Ziploc bag the night before to save time the next morning. It literally took me about two minutes to throw it all in the crock-pot.

INGREDIENTS
2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 c tomatillos, chopped
4 anaheim chiles, seeded and chopped
3 jalapeños, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp coriander
4 c chicken broth
1/3 c masa harina
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
lime

GARNISHES
shredded cheese
sour cream
green onions, chopped
lime wedges

STEPS

  • In a large crock-pot combine the beans, chicken breasts, tomatillos, anaheim chiles, jalapeños, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander and broth to the slow cooker. (Do not stir)
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
    Remove the chicken breasts, shred, and put back in the pot.
  • Add in the masa harina, salt, pepper, and the juice of one lime and stir.
  • Continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with garnishes of your choice.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Mini Key Lime Pies

I have never eaten nor have I ever made key lime pie. However, I always think it looks beautiful and absolutely delicious! You may recall in one of my last posts that I mentioned for Easter I went with a tea party theme and did small bites. I wanted something very festive so I decided to finally wing it and do something totally different. I ended up with the cutest and most delectable little key lime pies. They were amazing! They were perfectly tart and had just the right amount of creaminess. And they were just so cute! If you follow my lead and get the premade crusts and whip cream this recipe takes no longer than 3 minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake. Who doesn’t have time for that? With summer warming up this really is the perfect refreshing dessert to enjoy on a warm day.

Note: I opted to make mini pies but you can just as easily make one big pie with this recipe. Adjust the baking time to 23–25 minutes.

INGREDIENTS
12 mini graham cracker pie crusts (I found Keebler ones in the baking aisle)
4 egg yolks
3/4 c key lime juice
zest from one lime
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c sour cream
whipped cream
1 lime sliced and then cut into quarters (optional)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium bowl combine the egg yolks, lime juice, zest, condensed milk, and sour cream and whisk until well smooth.
  • Place the pie crusts on a large baking sheet and top off each with the filling.
  • Bake pies for 18–20 minutes and allow to cool before moving to the refrigerator.
  • Chill the pies in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.
  • When ready to serve top each pie with a dollop of whip cream and a little slice of lime.
  • Enjoy! (And good luck eating just one!)