Friday Favorites

Plans this weekend revolve around keeping cool in this summer heat wave. Ways to stay cool:  go to the pool and stay IN the pool; staying home and cooking epic summer meals; or going out to lunch where the AC is blasting and cool drinks are flowing.

So while I’m trying to not think about the heat – here are my favorites from the week!

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Favorite Sunday:  Strawberry Pizza with Bacon and Caramelized Onions.  We don’t have many plans set in stone this weekend (see above) however, “pizza Sunday” hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks so I’m thinking that needs to happen.

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Favorite Craving:  Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These would be worth turning on the oven.  Salty. Sweet.  CHIPS IN COOKIES!

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Favorite Dream House:  Katie Lee’s Hampton House is For Sale.  Rarely do I find a home in which I like everything.  Until now.  Everything about this house is perfection.  Except the price tag.

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Favorite Dinner Party:  Go To Summer Menu – Bo Ssam Dinner Party.  Don’t let the name turn you away – it’s basically slow roasted pork that gets turned into lettuce wraps with ALL the toppings.  Delicious, right?
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Favorite Appetizer: Skillet Cheesy Corn Dip.  Would it be bad to eat this as diner?  Asking for a friend.

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Favorite Summer:  Loaded Caprese Grilled Cheese.  Thick sourdough bread, melted mozzarella, fresh tomato and garlic sauce, and herbaceous pesto.  I can’t deal.

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Favorite Food for Thought:  Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness.  Because the more we give, the better we become. Real love is not self-seeking, and it will always cost you.

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Favorite Weeknight Dinner:  Chipotle Black Bean Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole.  I need some Mexican-inspired food in my life.  This could do the trick.

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Favorite Tips and Tricks:  How to Print Mix in Your Home.    I’m obsessed with Gray Malin’s photography and I dream of owning one of his prints.

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Favorite Cocktail:  Rosé and Watermelon Sunshine Spritzers.  The best thing on a hot day is an ice cold drink.

CHEERS!

Almond Butter Banana Yogurt Muffins

This is what happens when you have super ripe bananas staring at you and your freezer is already full of frozen bananas.

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Almond Butter Banana Yogurt Muffins are the perfect breakfast or snack and I think Big Guy is going to be verrrrry happy to sample these.  The recipe is very similar to other banana muffin recipes except there is NO oil.  Super ripe bananas and Greek yogurt give these muffins extra moisture to keep them from drying out.  And instead of pieces of nuts, almond butter!  Peanut butter (what the recipe called for) would be equally delicious but I’m OUT.   (Don’t worry, I’m working on my Trader Joe’s shopping list as we speak.)  In addition to sweetness from the bananas, a little maple syrup (or honey) and brown sugar add just the right amount. Feel free to adjust the amounts if you’re watching your sugar intake.  The only other changes I made to the recipe were that I used 2% milk instead of the soy milk and I used all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat.

Since I wasn’t really in need of a lot of muffins, I allowed the muffins to cool before freezing half of them for later.  Also, I think this recipe would make more than 12 muffins – mine turned out HUGE.

Happy Snacking!

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Grilled Romaine Salad with Crab

Think you’re grill is only for burgers and chicken?  Think again.  Grilling romaine hearts gives them a smoky flavor while still remaining crisp.  Big Guy and I both love amping up salads by grilling the greens.

The dressing for this salad only requires TWO ingredients:  pre-made guacamole (Wholly guacamole is my favorite) and lemon juice.  Other toppings include grilled corn (another love of my life), cherry tomatoes and crab (if you don’t have access to fresh, high quality crab meat, use grilled shrimp).

I prepped all the ingredients ahead of time so that when it was time for dinner, all Big Guy had to do was fire up the grill and cook the corn and romaine.  While the romaine was cooking, I cut the corn off the cob.

Make sure to season the salad with plenty of salt and pepper – it’s a simple salad and these two ingredients make a huge difference.

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So fresh and full of flavor!

And don’t you dare skip grilling the romaine.

Curried Lentil-And-Vegetable Stew

Despite cooking with zucchini and tomatoes last night, we had an entirely different dinner last night.  An abundance of homegrown tomatoes and zucchini are transformed in this Indian-inspired dinner.  

I was unable to find pre-cooked lentils, so I simply purchased quick cooking lentils, and they were ready in six minutes.  The stew starts by sautéing onion in a little EVOO and then adding zucchini and garlic.  Once those ingredients cook for three minutes, add in the tomato, curry powder and ketchup.  Yes, ketchup.  It’s our secret ingredient adding a little tang, a little sweetness and a little acidity.  The curry powder adds a PUNCH of flavor.  Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute before adding in the vegetable stock that is mixed with cornstarch (one tablespoon) to help thicken up the stew.  Finally, add in the lentils and salt and allow to cook for three minutes.  The entire pot gets a pop of freshness from the juice of one lime.

Serve a bowl full of this flavorful stew with cool, tangy Greek yogurt on top.

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Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles

And so begins the never ending supply of tomatoes and zucchini from our garden!  (I promise I’m not complaining.) After spending the day by the pool yesterday, a healthy dinner was on the menu.  Not only were we able to use our tomatoes and zucchini from the garden but we were also able to use fresh thyme and basil.  Recipes that use multiple items from the garden make me happy.

Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles is a lightened up version of the usual chicken parm.  But just because you’re slashing calories doesn’t mean you have to slash the flavor.  A simple tomato sauce is made by sautéing fresh tomatoes, shallots, garlic and thyme in a little white wine.  The sauce simmers until thickened.

Chicken cutlets are then slathered with a mixture of Greek yogurt and parmesan cheese before being dredged in bread crumbs (I used gluten free).  Baked, instead of fried, until cooked through and the breading is crunchy.

Once the chicken is cooked through, turn the oven to broil and top each piece of chicken with a little of the tomato sauce and then mozzarella cheese.  Broil until the cheese is bubbly.

Finally, the zucchini is spiralized and sautéed with a  little EVOO and garlic before being tossed with the remaining tomato sauce.

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Word on the street is that our corn will be ready for harvest this weekend!

Friday Favorites

FRI-YAY!  For some reason this week has felt incredibly long. I thought Sunday was Monday and that just continued all.week.long.  But it’s finally Friday and the weekend is within sight.  Our weekend plans include a date night, lunch with Big Guy’s sisters, perhaps some pool time and simply relaxing.  I hope you have something fun planned for this warm, summer weekend.  Here are my favorites from the week:

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Favorite Summer:  Grilled Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad with Chimichurri.  I’m pretty sure I could live off salads similar to this on during the warm months of summer.

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Favorite Lightened-Up:  Healthy Gluten-Free Lemon Bars. These are happening ASAP.  I’m obsessing over the almond flour crust.

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Favorite Tip:  How to Freeze Zucchini.  I can never, ever use all the zucchini that comes out of our garden.  I love giving some away but I hate when I have so much it goes bad.  This is my new solution!

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Favorite In Season:  Easy Cheesy Zucchini Roll-Ups.  Speaking of zucchini, here’s another way to use up all the garden bounty.  That cheese, though.

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Favorite Round-Up:  7 Affordable Beach Cruisers.  WANT!  I’m really loving the coral bike with the basket.   

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Favorite Salty and Sweet:  Saltine Cracker-Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches.  Don’t twist my arm.  I absolutely adore this combo.

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Favorite Toppings:  Grilled Burrata Pizza with Crispy Prosciutto and Fried Basil.   Y’all – I love burrata.  The creaminess is unreal.  That paired with crispy, salty prosciutto and crunchy basil sounds insane.  Simple but insane.

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Favorite Unexpected:  Summery Chipotle Corn Chowder.  I know, I know.  HOT SOUP?  I get it.  It’s 90 degrees outside and the last thing you probably want is soup.  But this one sounds so good I might have to make a sacrifice and eat dinner in my bathing suit.

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Favorite Ice Cold:  Frozen Mint Lemonade.  How refreshing!  I think I’d add a little gin or vodka for a kick.

Cheers!

BLT Lettuce Cups with Avocado

I’m fairly certain I could eat these lettuce wraps once a week during the summer and never grow tired of them.  It’s basically a BLT sandwich without the bread.  But don’t worry – you won’t miss the bread at all.  Especially if you add creamy, rich avocado.

This meal couldn’t be easier to prepare.  If you can cook bacon, you can make these wraps.  Cook your bacon and then crumble.  Dice your tomatoes (I used some cherry tomatoes from our garden, so I simply halved them).  Once the tomatoes are diced, mix with a little light mayo (Duke’s is the only mayo we know in the South).  Slice your avocado.

To assemble, carefully “peel” off the lettuce leaves from a head of iceberg lettuce.  Note:  I will probably use romaine or bibb lettuce next time.  Fill the lettuce leaves with the sliced avocado, in-season tomatoes and crispy bacon.  Sprinkle it all with a little salt and pepper.

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Just as delicious as ANY BLT you could ever eat.  It was messy and crunchy, salty but refreshing and totally addicting.

Don’t leave off the avocado!