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Labor Day is a friendly reminder of those fleeting summer moments, so I took it upon myself this weekend to make sure I got in as much summer flavor as I could. That meant pizza on the beach, ice cream from our local ice cream shop, and any recipe I could think of that was chock-full of summer corn and juicy end of summer tomatoes. This pasta dish is a new weeknight dinner favorite in the summer, it takes about 15 minutes to make. The base of the dish is based on a traditional Cacio E Pepe, a super simple Italian pasta that combines butter, pasta water, parmesan cheese, and tons of fresh cracked pepper. I gave the classic a summer-spin by folding in the sweet flavors of corn and tomatoes, which are a perfect balance for that bite of all of the cracked pepper. Full recipe below:CacioEpepe1 read more

It has been sweltering the last week or so, hasn’t it? I’m avoiding the oven at all costs and focusing my efforts on desserts that involve icy cold whipped cream and frozen bites of cream puff goodness. This recipe I’ve been working on is my favorite kind: a non-recipe! If you can pick up creme puffs in the frozen food section of Trader Joe’s or Costco, you’re pretty much already halfway there. All you have to do after that is make some homemade whipped cream (I usually drop in a pint of cream into my KitchenAid mixer with a tbsp or so of sugar, and 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract — whip until it starts to create stiff peaks).Creme Puff Trifle 6 read more

I’m open to any and all ideas to beat this August humidity! Beach days have helped, sitting my face 2 inches in front of a box fan has done the trick, and refreshing cocktails are always a good idea. This cocktail recipes can be made with or without alcohol,  and is as easy as throwing all of the ingredients in the blender (an inexpensive handheld immersion blender will even do the trick if you strain it 2-3 times). The sweetness of the strawberries and the cool flavors of the mint and watermelon are so darn refreshing. I’ve been keeping a carafe of this in the fridge to sip on with tons of ice and a squeeze of fresh lime. Enjoying it through a flamingo straw is the icing on the cake! Full recipe below: FlamingoWatermelon 1 read more

Do you have a go-to warm weather recipe? The one you default to when it’s just too hot out to cook? I think this is my new  heat-wave dinner default, a summery panzanella salad packed with local, fresh ingredients that would make any farmer’s market wanderer proud. Panzanella always reminds me of Ina Garten, she’d say to use “good” olive oil and sprinkle giant sea salt flakes on top, so I like to channel her when tossing this together. What makes this panzanella different? Lots of sweet fresh corn — it’s the best this time of year and adds so much flavor and color! I served it with a few pieces of rotisserie chicken (didn’t even make it, I cheated and snagged one from the grocery store! Another great way to beat the heat!) and drizzled it with olive oil and salt and pepper to dress it up the flavors. I know this dish is going to be on repeat all the way through Labor Day.IMG_4161 read more

I tend to hit a cooking slump during this time of the summer. It has been terribly hot the past few days and I glance over to look at the stove like it’s going to bite me if I turn it on. Instead of phoning it in though (literally, I considered phoning in a pizza), I’ve been trying to take this heat wave as a cooking challenge — can I create tasty treats that also keep me cool? That’s where this idea came in! I took the elements of a nice chilled antipasto plate and made them into dippable skewers, laced with some chilled provolone, tortellini, tomatoes and olives. I made my own pesto for the dipping sauce (I just throw in garlic, basil, pine nuts and olive oil and keep adding until the consistency looks right) — try Ina Garten’s recipe if you like to be exact with proportions! They chilled down in the fridge for a bit until they were ready to bring to a friend’s pool party and proved to be the perfect cool snack.IMG_3985 read more

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