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

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

I’m checking in today on my “be a better baker challenge” in collaboration with my friends at Chase Freedom Unlimited, and this week I tackled summer desserts: mini angel food cakes with berries and whipped cream. I find one of the issues I’m facing with this baking challenge is finding the motivation to take on complicated recipes. In cooking, I’m always looking for smart shortcuts to save time, cut down on dishes, and get delicious healthy food on the table fast. Shortcuts in baking are a big no-no, so I struggle to take on those harder recipes – the joy of baking is a daunting one!summer desserts read more

I have been on such a corn-kick lately; I can’t get enough of the sweet summer kernels! This recipe is for a simple summer pasta dish full of the sweet corn that I sautéed with butter and garlic and shallots. The corn releases juices and creates a creamy sauce when combined with the butter, wine, and reserved water from the pasta. I folded in fresh pesto (recipe in my cookbook!) and herbs to give it even brighter, seasonal flavor, and some sweet Italian sausage gets added in to give it the heartiness of a main-course. I have made it a few times in the past few weeks, once when we had family over for an al fresco dinner. I served it with a fresh garden salad, and savory slice of Southern Living’s buttermilk tomato pie. The whole meal just tasted of summer in every single bite! Get the full recipe below: read more

A crudité platter is almost always on my menu-plan for gatherings, big or small, because it’s a wonderful way to add tons of color and flavor to a table. It’s also a delicious and easy way to incorporate the bounty of New England’s seasonal vegetables available locally in the spring and summer!  I like to give those beautiful seasonal ingredients an accompaniment that lives up to their fresh, crisp flavor; a homemade dip is the perfect balance for the crudité. This cottage cheese dip, using Hood’s new flavor Cottage Cheese with Cracked Pepper, is simple to assemble and tastes best after the flavors combine for a bit in the refrigerator.
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My most-popular recipe in the last year (actually, maybe ever?) has been my sheet-pan cauliflower gnocchi with tomatoes, made with the cult-favorite Trader Joe’s Frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi. I was totally amazed by the response to this recipe, but I get why people like it: it’s healthy-ish, it’s fast and simple, and it’s made on one sheet pan so the clean-up is easy! I always stock up on the Trader Joe’s Frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi when I see it in stores, and decided to give my go-to recipe a facelift for the summer-season! This recipe is a spin on my original, but I added in summer veggies like squash and zucchini, tossed Italian sausage in the mix for some added flavor, and finished it off with a dollop of ricotta cheese (which melts over the warm gnocchi and acts as a sauce). It was a big hit all around our dinner table, and think this one will be a new favorite for the cauliflower gnocchi fans! Full recipe below:  read more

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