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Homemade Sourdough Garlic-Herb Croutons

These croutons are addictive, delicious & the perfect addition to any salad. Even if it’s the only thing you “cook,” it gives your salads that restaurant feeling (and taste!)

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1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp parsley

1 TBSP butter

1.5 TBSP EVOO

4 cups sourdough bread cubes

1-2 TBSP crumbled Parmesan cheese

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all spices into a small bowl & set aside.

Melt butter & combine w/ the oil. Place bead cubes in a bowl & drizzle butter/oil mixture over cubes & toss w/ your hands until evenly coated. Sprinkle herb mixture over bread cubes & toss w/ your hands.

Spread cubes on a baking sheet in one even layer. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then use a spatula to flip croutons & bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until golden brown & toasted. Remove from oven & immediately toss with Parmesan cheese. Let cool & add to salad. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

** I served these with an easy Caesar salad – Grilled chicken breasts (marinated with Nature’s Own Seasoning & lemon olive oil), romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, store bought Caesar dressing, fresh cracked pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites: Savoring the Seasons Cookbook

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Summer Spaghetti

This isn’t the best picture, but let me tell you, this pasta was so tasty! The perfect summer pasta dish!
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1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente

3 boneless chicken breasts

For the chicken marinade:

Nature’s Own seasoning

2 teaspoons thyme, dried

2 teaspoons rosemary, dried

1 lemon, juiced

2 TBSP lemon olive oil (or regular olive oil)

1 tsp coarse salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the garlic gravy:

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 TBSP all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups chicken stock

1 TBSP fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped (to garnish)

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cherry tomatoes; halved

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Pound chicken breasts till thin & uniform thickness. Sprinkle chicken with Nature’s Own (both sides.) Add all the marinade ingredients (thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper) into a mixing bowl and mix all together. Dump this marinade mixture into a gallon ziplock bag and the chicken to marinate. Marinate overnight or if short on time at the minimum 1 – 2 hours.

Cook the marinated chicken in lemon olive oil until cooked and browned on the sides. Allow chicken to rest for a few minutes then dice.

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Saute the garlic until fragrant and soft. Add the flour and cook for a minute. Add the chicken stock and simmer gravy until thickened. (You may need to sift some additional flour into this mixture, so help thicken. Just whisk as you sift the flour in.) Add the chicken into the gravy then toss the cooked spaghetti into this sauce. Add the cherry tomatoes and finish the dish with the chopped parsley, chopped basil, and grated parmesan cheese (serve extra parmesan cheese on the side) Season with salt and pepper.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigerette

This is my new favorite salad! It’s as good as any restaurant & FULL of flavor!

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Recipe adapted from My Natural Family

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

2 limes (juiced)

2/3 cup cilantro

1/2 avocado

2 garlic cloves

2 TBL honey

1/2 cup olive oil (I use Trader Joe’s Lemon Olive Oil)

2 TBL white vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

FOR THE MARINADE:

1/2 cup cilantro

2 limes (juiced)

2 tsp coarse salt

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 cup olive oil (I use Trader Joe’s Lemon Olive Oil again)

FOR THE SALAD:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large yellow onion (peeled and sliced)

1 large yellow & green bell pepper (seeds removed, cut into strips)

2-3 heads Romaine Hearts (cut into bit sized pieces)

1 avocado (sliced)

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)

Santa Fe style tortilla strips

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MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend together until the garlic is well chopped and ingredients have emulsified.

Refrigerate dressing.

MAKE THE MARINADE:

Using the same blender or processor that the vinaigrette was made in (you don’t need to wash it out), place all ingredients for the marinade inside and puree until garlic is finely chopped.

Pour 1/2 of the marinade into a bowl or Ziploc bag and add chicken to the marinade.

Pour the other half of the marinade into another bag or bowl and add the sliced onion and peppers to it.

Let marinate overnight or for several hours, if possible. You can also skip letting it marinade and use it immediately. It will still taste great!

FOR THE SALAD:

Prepare salad plates (or a large bowl) by placing lettuce, avocado sliced, and cherry tomatoes on each plate (or all together in a bowl.

Heat a large sauté pan or wok to high. Add the vegetables (do not add the marinade) to the hot pan and cook quickly, tossing with tongs or a spatula until the veggies are still crisp, but golden brown in spots. Remove from pan and keep warm.

In the same pan on high heat, add the chicken and marinade to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and slightly caramelized. Toss with the vegetables.

Top salads with the hot chicken, vegetables & sliced avocado. Drizzle with the cilantro lime vinaigrette. Top with tortilla strips

Summer Grape Salad

This salad would be PERFECT for a barbecue or summer gathering. It’s sweet, bright and citrusy with a hint of vanilla. Yum!!

*Note – Double of triple this recipe for a party or potluck.

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½ cup sugar

½ cup water

juice of ½ an orange

1 tsp vanilla extract or caviar from one vanilla bean

1 pint strawberries; quartered

1 pint blueberries

1 lb green grapes, halved

1 lb red grapes, halved

Combine sugar, ½ cup of water, orange juice and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and stir to until sugar dissolves.

Bring mixture to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Allow mixture to cool.

Prepare fruit in a large bowl, pour cooled syrup over fruit, stir and chill until ready to serve.

Game Day Oreo Truffles

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1 package of Oreos

1 8oz cream cheese

Milk Chocolate Almond Bark

White Chocolate (for drizzle)

**I tinted flaked coconut with green food coloring for the grass. Just throw the coconut into a ziplock, add a few drops of food coloring & shake, shake, shake.

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Crush 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Shape mixture into football shapes & refrigerate for a few minutes.

Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. Melt white chocolate chips in a plastic bag. You want the chocolate to be soft, but not too thin because you need to be able to pipe it. Cut tip off corner of the bag and pipe “laces” onto truffle.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Drizzled Trail Mix

This is what happens when your friend asks you to bring “something snacky” to a gathering. I kind of just threw things together, but everyone was hovering over the bowl in the kitchen, so I think they liked it 😉

I wouldn’t really call this a “recipe” but here are the steps!

 

1 box of Chex Mix

16 oz dry-roasted peanuts

Reese’s Pieces

Peanut Butter

White Almond Bark

Small pretzel sticks (optional)

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Lay out two pieces of wax paper (it’s best to do this on a baking sheet) and split the box of Chex Mix between them. If you have pretzels, repeat this step with two additional pieces of wax paper. In two separate plastic bags, microwave a few blocks of almond bark & peanut butter until melted, but not runny.

Snip a small hole in one corner & drizzle one half of Chex Mix (and pretzels) with chocolate & the other with peanut butter.

Put baking sheets in fridge until chocolate & peanut butter have hardened completely.

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Break Chex Mix into small chunks. In a large bowl, add Chex Mix, Reese’s Pieces & peanuts and combine well.

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**If you’re doing this for a football game, you could add in colored sprinkles on top of the white chocolate. You could even substitute the Reese’s Pieces for M&Ms in team colors!

“Berried” Treasure Dessert

(Originally posted June 5, 2016)

I can’t even tell you how delectable this dessert is… we make it all the time during the summer. Yum yum yum!

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Crust:

1.5 cups graham crackers crumbs or 1.5 sleeves of graham crackers crushed

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

Filling:

One 8 oz. softened cream cheese

1/4 cup of sugar

2 TBSP plus 2.5 cups of cold milk

(2) 16 oz. cool whip – thawed

(2) 1 pint of strawberries – quartered

(2) 1 pint blueberries

One 6 oz vanilla instant pudding (I used two packages of the 3.4 oz boxes)

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Mix all ingredients together until combined (Try not to faint from the heavenly aroma)

Allow to cool (you can stick it in the fridge to speed up the process)

Beat cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 TBSP of milk until smooth; fold in 1/2 tub of Cool Whip.

Spread this over the already baked and cooled crust & sprinkle strawberries & blueberries on top.
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Mix the pudding packages (6oz) and 2.5 cups of milk; beat 1-2 minutes.

Pour the pudding mixture over the strawberries/berries and chill for several hours or overnight.
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Spread with additional Cool Whip & assorted berries.

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Grilled Chicken & Grape Tomato Basil Pasta

(Originally posted May 29, 2015)

During the summer, we have this all the time. Although it’s pasta, it’s light & delicious!

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3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Nature’s Own seasoning, dried oregano and dried basil

kosher salt and fresh pepper

8 oz penne pasta

2 (pint) grape tomatoes, halved

6 cloves garlic, minced

parmesan cheese, grated

extra virgin olive oil

4 TBSP fresh basil, chopped

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Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Season chicken generously with Nature’s Own seasoning, oregano and basil. Heat a large skillet on high heat. Once heated, drizzle oil in pan and add chicken. Cook about 3-4 minutes, until cooked through. Remove chicken, dice and set aside.

Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2-1 cup pasta water before draining.

While pasta cooks, add olive oil to skillet on high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown (do not burn). Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté about 4-5 minutes. Use tongs to crush softened tomatoes – this will help create the sauce. When pasta is drained, add pasta to tomatoes and toss well. If pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Add fresh basil and chicken and toss well. Serve and top with grated cheese.

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Triple

(Originally posted May 28, 2016)

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2 (3.4 oz) packages instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix

4 cups milk

Pre-made pound cake – cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

1 lb strawberries

2 containers blueberries

1 container blackberries

12 oz Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream)

** you can sub the cheesecake pudding for anything – white chocolate or french vanilla would be yummy too

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Combine milk & pudding mix using your mixer according to package instructions.

Spread cake pieces into the bottom of the trifle dish – about half the cake.

Top with about 1/2 of the prepared pudding.

Top pudding with about 1/2 cup of each kind of berry.

Top berries with about other half of the Cool Whip.

Layer other half of cake, rest of pudding, remaining Cool Whip and decorate the top layer with strawberries, blueberries & blackberries.

Refrigerate for about 2-3 hours, until ready to serve.

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In the Cookie Jar: Princess Peanut Butter Blossoms

 

These are the easiest cookies we make, Charlotte. You love adding the Hershey Kiss at the end 🙂 You’re on your way, my sweet girl.

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1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Additional granulated sugar (about 2 tablespoons)

About 7 dozen Hershey’s Kisses milk chocolates

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Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in additional granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate candy in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.