Ever since the weather has warmed up, we have been out on the porch grilling every change we can get. Over Memorial Day weekend we hit up friends’ BBQs, enjoyed a clambake at my parent’s house, and experimented at home with some new burger recipes. I am all about loading up a burger with a ton of tasty toppings and tested a burger that’s full of cheesy, avocado-y goodness. I mixed up a rustic ‘salsa’ with diced avocados, tomatoes, onions, roasted corn and scallions to top a burger melted with two cheeses: colby and pepperjack. I used Pepperidge Farm® Farmhouse Hearty Buns to hold it all together, these are key — they don’t fall apart under the pressure of all of these tasty toppings! The result was almost like enjoying my favorite nacho ingredients a top a juicy grilled burger on a fluffy, hearty bun (with some baked sweet potato fries for good measure!). Do I have you drooling yet? Full recipe below!  Burger1 read more

There was a glimmer of summer that happened this week when the sun was out and the temperatures hit the 70s and I was delighted. I started to get that early summer buzz where I want to skip through the farmers market, spend every ounce of daylight outside on the patio, and get my summer BBQ on! You can say this recipe is like training for those summer BBQs; I’m getting my creative juices flowing and trying to think of new spins on the classic summer party sides. My family loves a pesto pasta salad so I took a crack and giving it an update with a mint and pea based pesto, tossed with Prince Pasta Medium Shells (did you know 38 of Prince Pasta products are now Non-GMO Project verified?). Shells are a clear choice because their little shell pockets get filled up with bursts of pesto and cheese and fresh peas. My hope is that by packing the recipe with fresh herbs and veggies, it’s slightly healthier than our traditional pesto pasta salad recipes — and it’s bursting with fresh summer flavors. Full recipe below:PeaMintPasta1 read more

When I was visiting my family recently I told my mom I’d be in charge of the signature cocktail for a get-together she was hosting. The proximity to Cinco de Mayo left me no choice, I had to go with a margarita. My mom agreed, but noted that her friends may not be as adept at holding their tequila as I am (I’ll take that as a compliment!) so I decided to experiment with a sangrita recipe — margarita inspired with a sangria flair. I made this in a big batch so it was easy for guests to self-serve. Start with a clear pitcher and 4 limes quartered and squeezed in the bottom. Next I poured in about 2 cups of ice, 2-3 tbsp of sugar, 1 cup of tequila (or more, depending on taste!), and 2 bottles of Izze Sparkling Clementine. Stir it all up and let it sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill and combine the flavors. When you’re ready to serve, pour a glass halfway full of the margarita mixture and top with a light, crisp rosé (try a sparkling rosé too!). A few festive straws are all you need to finish off the drink (PS: how cute is my mom’s Target bar cart?), and luckily between the two of us we have a life-time supply of those!
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We’re coming up on one of my favorite excuses to consume excessive amounts of margaritas and Mexican food, Cinco de Mayo! To get in the holiday spirit I decided to play around with some nacho recipes (It’s a tough job people, but someone has to do it!). I really like the idea of nachos being a full meal, because I usually feel just full enough after eating them that I don’t really want an entree (but then I’m like, did I really just eat a bowl of cheesy chips for dinner?). My solution: add the full meal to the bowl of chips! I stepped out to our new grill (my current favorite toy) and grilled up some skirt steak, corn, and baby peppers. All of that grilled flavor adds such a great element to the nachos, and you get your protein and veggies in!FSTG Cinco De Mayo Steak Nachos 1

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Life goal: find ways to make pasta more healthy. I could seriously eat pasta for every single meal, but know that I shouldn’t! Salt for Life and their team challenged me and a few other bloggers to come up with healthy recipes featuring a few key ingredients (like our own version of Chopped!). This is my second recipe in the series, check out the avocado-toast appetizer I created for my first recipe.CornSwissChardShells1 read more

Everywhere you look there’s a girl instagramming her avocado toast. I’ve seen more avocado toast on the internet than macarons lately, and that’s really saying something. So I start this post with a disclaimer, this isn’t an avocado toast, it’s California Bruschetta. So very different, right? I was going to call these mini-avocado toasts, but my husband walked in to scoop one off the tray mid-click of my camera shutter and asked — “what is this? California bruschetta?” He gets full credit for naming this one (and truth be told, he has a lot of great ideas that end up on this blog that he doesn’t always get credit for).  California Bruschetta 6 read more

This past weekend we had a few friends over to our house for a casual gathering, I got a bunch of ingredients for us to make our own pizzas and we hung out around the kitchen island, making our own pizzas and drinking beers and catching up. For dessert, I wanted to keep with the casual tone and was brainstorming unfussy ideas for sweet treats. I’m participating in a little recipe challenge with Salt for Life, and a sweet and salty dessert is always up my alley.salted caramel ice cream sandwich 1 read more

About 90% of the time when I ask my husband if he has any ideas for dinner, he replies “tacos?” (in case you’re wondering, the remaining 10% answer is always fajitas — clearly we were meant to be). I’ve never met a taco I didn’t like, but every staple dinner idea can use a little spicing up now and again. When Family Circle Magazine challenged me to create a new recipe using Hidden Valley Sriracha Ranch, I had just the dish in mind! I created an easy dinner of pulled chicken tacos with tasty toppings and an extra kick with Hidden Valley Sriracha Ranch Sour Cream. It’s the perfect combination of coolness and spice to bring tons of flavor to taco night. I loaded these up with my favorite toppings — big slices of avocados are a must, and I love scallions and red onions for some bite. Plus cheese, lots of cheese! If you need to sneak some more veggies in there, chopped up tomatoes and lettuce work too. Add a little Sriracha ranch sour cream to finish them off. You can check out the tacos in Family Circle, and get the full recipe below:HVR Siracha Ranch Tacos 1 read more

It’s a gloomy, cold, rainy day in Boston and doesn’t feel a bit like spring! So instead of pouting (which I’m usually quite good at), I’m going to force a little warm-weather cheer on here with a fresh new cocktail recipe that has me mentally swinging on a porch swing in 70 degree sunny weather. Natalie Orchid Island Juice sent me their brand new Iced Tea Lemonade flavor to test out, and I shook it up with some simple syrup, bourbon, and fresh mint for a new take on a mint-julep. It’s refreshing but strong, just what a girl needs to beat those Monday blues! Make sure you bookmark this one for your Kentucky Derby viewing parties this spring, it’ll be a hit! Full recipe below:

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It’s Friday, and I’m ready for a cocktail! Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice sent me a big box of their handcrafted, squeezed fresh juices and when I saw the color of the Orange Beet juice I could not wait to experiment with the flavors and get that stuff in a pretty cocktail glass!  Now, beets can have an earthy flavor, so the tartness of the oranges and the sweetness of the simple syrup are good balance to subdue that flavor. I still love that bite of earthiness from the beets though, it’s a totally unique taste in a mixed drink. And when my friend and I sat taste-testing these last weekend, we rationalized that we were basically drinking vegetables, so one more sip was like we were making very healthy choices (the label even says it: no GMOs, no preservatives, no sugar — I’m nearly on a juice cleanse people!). The cocktail was super tasty, and it looks good —  take a look at the contrast of those kiwi slices and richly colored juice. Yum, and cheers to a fabulous weekend! Full recipe below: Orange Beet Cocktail A read more