I can’t believe how fast the month of August has been flying by! Summer is fleeting, so I’m very grateful for a weekend ahead with no plans. Going to soak it all up, get my toes sandy, and maybe make some s’mores with Jane (one of the last items we haven’t tackled on our summer bucket list!). Before I hunt down my marshmallow and graham crackers, I have a round up of new recipes, recent reads, and a few other random tidbits to send us into the weekend — happy reading! read more

Even though I am loving every last second of the end of summer, I do get very excited about getting back into the steady routine of fall. Our weeks are a little more structured, and I definitely always think about the start of the school year as a reset-button on my habits and goals. With that reset-button comes a bit more intention about how I plan my days, and meal-planning at the beginning of the week always gets me started on the right foot! As I get back into the meal planning groove, I wanted to spice up my go-to dishes that I make ahead for a week of lunches (See some of my best meal planning tips in an older post). read more

Please note: This post was created in collaboration with Chase Freedom Unlimited. All opinions, images and content are my own.

I’m making some progress on my “be a better baker challenge” in collaboration with my friends at Chase Freedom Unlimited, and I have been digging into a baking area that I was really excited to tackle: bread! Oh gosh, I love bread, and fresh baked bread is just about the best thing on earth. I have been determined to master a go-to recipe in the bread category that I can make when we have guests over for a meal, because a good crusty loaf is the perfect accompaniment to most dishes and summer desserts. read more

I am lapping up every last drop of summer this week, which means spending lots of time outdoors. We have been plucking the most delicious end-of-summer veggies out of little container garden — the tomatoes are bountiful! And I’ve been scooping up sweet yellow squash and crisp green zucchini from our farm stand. To make the most of our ripe vegetables and our summer nights I have been using lots of shortcuts for speeding through making dinner. Less time in the kitchen = more time playing in the yard!  One of my best shortcut tricks is using al fresco Chicken Nights Faster Sausage. read more

Toddlers and meal time, it’s a tumultuous relationship! Some weeks we hit our stride and meal times go like clockwork, and other weeks I have to try just about every trick up my sleeve to get Jane to eat anything at all. One of my very best tricks though, is giving her a few options. I love giving her bento box style lunches with a variety of ingredients to keep her engaged at mealtime. It’s been something that’s worked really well for us at lunchtime, and I even assemble a bento box style dinner for eating outside on the patio or on a summer picnic. Since this has been such a success for us at other meal times, I thought I’d try a breakfast bento box to get us out of a morning rut, using some of my favorite Cascadian Farm organic granolas and cereals. read more

A few weeks ago my mom and sister stayed the night and brought a recipe for a savory tomato pie recipe from Southern Living magazine. I was so excited to try it, since it made uses of the delicious seasonal tomatoes popping in my garden, and combined a buttermilk pie crust with a rich cheese filling. It came out amazing and it was so decadent and delicious, but the recipe took almost FOUR hours to make. Between prepping the dough, roasting the tomatoes, pre-baking the crust, and layering in resting times between each step, I had spent nearly the entire afternoon getting this darn tasty pie to the table. We sat around our patio table and discussed all of the things we loved about it, and I set out on a mission to make my own version that would down the prep time significantly! This version is my take on the southern classic and a perfect use for those sweet summer tomatoes; recipe below:
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Is there anything on this earth that tastes more like summer than a lobster roll? I think not! Hot or cold, I’ll take all of the lobster rolls I can get. My friends at Just Madras sent me an adorable package with a Lobster Roll tote bag, t-shirt, and perfectly preppy gingham napkins — it was the perfect excuse to make some lobster rolls for a summer picnic at the beach. I have my classic hot buttered lobster roll recipe in my cookbook, but realized I’ve never shared my cold lobster roll recipe here (until today!). This version gets tons of flavor from a healthy heap of fresh lemon thyme and chives. The herbs bring out so much flavor and brightness, and are a perfect compliment to the lobster meat. I made this version on small dinner rolls so guests can have them as a party snack (or gobble up a few of them alongside from potato chips!). Get the full recipe below: read more

Last week Jane and I drove by a cute little local blueberry patch and even though we had a bunch of errands ahead of us, I made an impromptu decision to abandon the to do list and turn in for some blueberry picking. Berry picking is a fixture on my summer bucket list, and such a fun activity to do with toddlers. I love hearing that plunk!plunk! of the blueberries dropping into the metal coffee tin the farm hands out for picking. Jane’s favorite part was darting in between the bushes and yelling “oh mom! I found some!” and my favorite part was soaking up the sunshine and sneaking a few fresh bites from our pail. read more

I have a family favorite recipe that we make all the time that is a Mexican “lasagna” that uses tortillas instead of lasagna noodles, and Hood Cottage Cheese instead of ricotta cheese. I used that dish as my inspiration and made a cold Mexican layered dip, flavoring the Hood Country Style Cottage Cheese with Mexican spices and layering it with guacamole, pico de gallo, beans, lettuce and cheddar cheese. I love this recipe for easy summer entertaining because, to start, there’s no cooking involved! We live in an old New England house with no A/C so I’m always brainstorming recipes that help me avoid turning on the oven in my kitchen during the warm summer months.   read more