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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Appetizers

Recipe—Steak & Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Steak and Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Last weekend I hosted a wine tasting party, which is so much fun by the way! Each person brought an appetizer and a bottle of wine so it was minimal preparation required on my part and didn’t break the bank. Thanks to all my amazing friends that came if you are reading this! It was such a blast! We had a total of 13 bottles of wine and an amazing spread of food.

Since I was holding the party around dinner time I knew I needed an appetizer that was hearty and filling. Steak came to mind since it would pair so nicely with a good hearty red blend. These appetizers may look very simple but the flavors were so amazing. The goat cheese is whipped together with cream cheese, olive oil, and red pepper so it is creamy and smooth with a mild kick. I was able to prepare everything earlier in the day and then assemble right before anyone arrived. And let me tell you, they were pretty darn popular among the ladies.

Steak and Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Note: These can be served hot or cold. I served them cold for the sake of convenience. I was able to do all the prep in the morning, stored the cooked steak and goat cheese spread in the fridge, and put the toasted crostini in an unsealed Ziploc bag. I then assembled them right before the party.

INGREDIENTS
1 baguette, cut into 1/4 slices
10–12 ounce New York strip steak
4 oz goat cheese, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt & pepper
chili powder
garlic powder
1/2 c pesto

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 425º.
  • Place the baguette slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  • Brush each slice with olive oil and season with a light sprinkle of salt. Flip each slice over and repeat.
  • Toast the baguette slices for 12–15 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
  • While the baguette slices are toasting, season both sides of the steak with salt, pepper, a sprinkle of chili powder, and garlic powder.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the steak.
  • Cook the steak for 4–6 minutes, flip, and continue to cook for an additional 4–6 minutes.
  • Remove the steak from the pan and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  • While the steak is resting, use a hand mixer to whip together the goat cheese, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, and two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Thinly slice the steak and set aside.
  • To assemble, spread about one teaspoon of the whipped goat cheese on a slice of toasted bread, top with a slice of steak, and a dollop of pesto.
  • Enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from Domesticate Me.

Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Cherry Cream Cheese Danishes

Cherry Cream Cheese Danishes

You know what is great about breakfast? It is the one meal during the day where it is acceptable to eat a dish that can be classified as dessert as the main dish. You can’t do that for lunch or dinner. While I typically prefer savory items when it comes to breakfast, I can not pass up a well done danish or doughnut. And if you recall from my Cherry Cheesecake Bars or Sweet Cherry Chip Dip, cherries and cream cheese are like totally my jam.

We were hosting Mother’s Day at our house this year and since I was going to be in the kitchen cooking for all the amazing women in my life, I decided I was going to make all of my favorite things, these danishes being one of them. Now don’t go tell anyone, but these are so quick and easy to make. You can whip these up in less than 30 minutes and look at how beautiful they are!

Note: I have a weak spot for cherry danishes but you can mix things up and use your favorite type of pie filling.

INGREDIENTS
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp Sugar
21 oz can cherry pie filling
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • On a lightly floured cutting board, unfold the puff pastry sheets.
  • Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares so you have 18 total.
  • With a butter knife, gently score a 1/2 inch border around the edge of each piece of puff pastry
  • Using a fork, poke each pastry square 3–4 times in the middle.
  • Combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until well combined.
  • Place a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each square and spread it evenly, ensuring it stays within the border.
  • In the middle of each square, place a large spoonful of the pie filling.
  • Transfer the squares to a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish each one up.
  • Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl.
  • Brush the edges of each pastry with the egg wash.
  • Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove the pastries from the baking sheet and allow to cool.
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—Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Summer is coming… but the warm weather is already here! Time to fire up the grill!

I love when I can find recipes that are almost all done on the grill so I can keep the kitchen cool during hot months. I may also love recipes like this because it means I do the easy prep work and then the hubby does all the hard work out in the heat at the grill while I stay cool inside with a margarita. It’s all about team work, right? 😉

Okay, onto the dish. Each of these components is delicious on it’s own but when brought together you get some amazing tacos! You have the grilled chili lime chicken which is so tender and has so much flavor, a little zest from the lime paired up with all those delicious seasonings and a tad of heat. Then you have this delicious chunky salsa made up of a sweet caramelized pineapple with a nice smoky flavor from the grilled red pepper and jalapeño. And is if that isn’t enough, (yes, it gets better!) then you add this refreshing avocado crema. Just give me a bag of tortilla chips and I will go to town on that sauce!

Another thing I love about this recipe is how pretty it is! Look at all those amazing colors! I truly love everything about this recipe! I hope you will too.

Chunky Pineapple Salsa

Chunky Pineapple Salsa

Chunky Pineapple Salsa

Note: If you want to cut down on the amount of preparation at dinner time, you can marinade the chicken for as long as 24 hours in advance and the crema can be made up to four hours in advance. Having a chunk of the leg work done in advance makes this a perfect recipe to make for dinner guests. All you have to do is grill the chicken, pineapple, and peppers, and warm up some tortillas.

CHILI LIME CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice

PINEAPPLE SALSA INGREDIENTS
20 oz can pineapple slices
1/2 red onion, sliced
red bell pepper, deseeded and quartered
jalapeno, deseeded and halved
olive oil
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

AVOCADO CREMA INGREDIENTS
1 avocado
1/2 c sour cream
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder

OTHER INGREDIENTS
tortillas
pepperjack cheese, shredded
lime, cut into wedges

STEPS

  • Place the chicken breasts in a large Pyrex dish.
  • Whisk together all the additional chili lime chicken ingredients in a small bowl and slather all over both sides of the chicken breasts.
  • Cover the Pyrex with plastic wrap and set aside to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • While the chicken is marinating, begin preparing items for the salsa. Skewer the red onions and then drizzle them, the bell pepper, and jalapeño with olive oil and set aside with the pineapple.
  • Preheat your grill to 375–425º.
  • Grill the chicken for 8–10 minutes on one side and then flip.
  • Add the pineapple and peppers to the grill and cook for 4­–5 minutes before flipping and then continue to grill them for another 4–5 minutes.
  • Continue to cook the chicken until a thermometer reads 160º when inserted into the thickest part of the meat, the pineapple until it is nicely caramelized, and the veggies until they have some nice grill marks.
  • Transfer everything from the grill to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • While all the grilled items are resting get started on the avocado cream. Add all the crema ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth and well blended, set aside.
  • Chop up the pineapple, onion, and peppers and place them in a bowl.
  • Add the cilantro, lime juice, ginger, cumin, salt, and pepper to the bowl and stir.
  • Chop up the chicken and set aside.
  • Everything is finally ready! Time to assemble the tacos!
  • Heat up your tortillas and top each one with meat, cheese, pineapple salsa, and avocado crema.
  • Devour!

 

Recipe adapted from Carlsbad Cravings.

Appetizers

Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS
2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES
cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.