Creamy Goat Cheese and Arugula Pasta Salad

Happy Monday, friends.  Can you believe it’s the last week of June?  This past weekend we spent some time at the pool, went on a couple of long walks, enjoyed sushi, and cooked some epic summer dinners.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a pasta salad but this goat cheese pasta salad has been on my brain since Memorial Day weekend and I finally made it last night for dinner.  The verdict:  my new favorite pasta salad.

The goat cheese adds so much creaminess and tang to the entire salad and the olive oil + lemon juice “dressing” adds a little zip that I adored.  The salad is studded with sweet, homegrown tomatoes as well as briny olives (perhaps my favorite part).  Peppery arugula adds just the right amount of spice and green to the dish.  This dish is best served warm or at room temperature but you can totally reheat in the microwave.

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Big Guy and I both adored this summery pasta salad.

Friday Favorites

I have two requirements for this weekend:  sun and fun.  Should be pretty easy to check those off the list.  I’m also thinking there’s a pizza night in our near future.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  p.s. Be sure to put SUN and FUN on your weekend list, too.

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Favorite Round-Up:  18 Grilled Pizzas That Bring Pizza Night Outside.  YES to Grilled Lobster and Corn Pizza with Goat Cheese and Fresh Tomatoes.

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Favorite Top:  Moon River Yellow Madeline Top.  How cute is this?  And it would be absolutely perfect for football season (sadly that will be here before we know it).

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Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Caprese Burrata Garlic Bread.  This is happening as soon as our tomatoes are ready to come off the vine.

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Favorite Sweet and Simple:  Cheesecake for Two.  Only five ingredients.  This would be perfect for date night in.

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Favorite Reads:  2017 Summer Reading List.  Jessica and I (yes, we’re on a first name basis) have the same taste in books.  I can’t wait to get my hands on “The Identicals,” “Secrets in Summer,” and “The Sunshine Sisters.”

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Favorite Cheese, Please:  Spicy Mexican Mac and Cheese.  I’ve been talking about “trashed up” mac and cheese for MONTHS now.  It’s about time I make it happen.

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Favorite Lightened Up:  Turkey Enchilada Stuffed Poblanos Rellenos.  All I can say is “YUM.”  Going on the menu ASAP.

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Favorite DIY:  Small Space Vertical Herb Garden.  If we were ever to have a smaller yard space, I could totally see myself wanting to make one of these.  How cute!

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Favorite Obsessed:  Greek Nachos.  These look absolutely incredible.  I want it all.

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Favorite Vacation:  Piña Colada Punch.  Perhaps I need to add this to my list for the weekend.  Fun. Sun. Vacation in a glass.

Cheers!

 

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End-of-Summer Cheeseburger Salad

Oh, it feels like Monday.  Thankfully the stars aligned and what I thought was going to be a crazy, disjointed day just became a little more relaxed.

Last night’s dinner was a nod to the end of summer.  While the weather will continue to be hot and summer-like, we’ve officially left the summer months.  Last night we threw together a salad with all the flavors of a cheeseburger:  shredded cheese, ground beef burger, lettuce, tomato, a ketchup & mustard inspired dressing and some crunched up potato chips.

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The salad starts with a base of lettuce.  Then comes a sprinkle of chopped tomatoes.  The burger patty is simply two burgers that were seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled until your desired doneness.  Then chop up the burgers and add that to the pile of lettuce.  Then a little cheese – we used fontina and the dressing.  The dressing is a mix of mayo, tomato sauce, mustard and a sprinkle of salt.  And finally the entire salad is amped up with some crushed potato chips for the ultimate crunch.

Such a fun twist on a classic summer favorite.

A Letter to Summer

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Dear Summer,

I can’t lie, Summer of 2016, you were not what I was expecting when you arrived in May. You’ve been a summer of laughs and memories but you’ve also been a summer of heartache and tears.

Technically you don’t end for a couple more weeks but you’re officially over after Labor Day weekend in my world.  There are a lot of things I’m going to miss about you, Summer.  Some of those loves are my summer tan, long evenings, zucchini and tomatoes and watermelon, Cajun Shrimp painted nails and the return of my love for white wine.  But there are a few things I won’t miss:  gnats, flies and HOT, HUMID days.  Mostly gnats and flies.

Summer of 2016, you passed by way too quickly.  The quickest summer of my life.  I feel like April was just weeks ago.  Not months.  But I know you’ll be back in 2017 ready for me to make more memories.

Love,

Your Summer-Loving Girl

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad with Spiced Pecans

This salad is the perfect summer salad!  It’s light, fresh and feel free to change up the fruit you used based on what’s in season.  I opted for raspberries because they looked gorgeous at the store – but blueberries or peaches would be amazing.

The chicken is simply seasoned with salt, pepper and I added a little onion powder.  If you have a favorite seasoning blend, go for it!  Big Guy fired up the grill and got the most perfect grill marks.  The key to moist chicken is not to overcook it.

The dressing is a simple mix of balsamic vinegar, EVOO, mustard, garlic plus salt and pepper.  One of the best parts about this salad is the spiced pecans.  I recommend doubling this recipe – Big Guy was obsessed.  Pecans are sautéed in a pan until fragrant (about 4 minutes).  Add in the butter, brown sugar and hot sauce and cook for another 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  They are sweet, crunchy with a little hint of heat.

To assemble the salad, put a big layer of greens on the plate followed by the raspberries, pecans and chicken.  Drizzle with the dressing and devour.

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Shrimp Burgers with Chipotle Cream and Coconut-Pineapple-Strawberry Salsa

Happy First Day of Summer!  I hope you had an amazing weekend – ours was pretty awesome.  Unfortunately Big Guy got stuck in Atlanta on Friday evening for a little while due to weather but other than that, we spent the whole weekend hanging out.  We pooled it, we celebrated “appy” hour, we laughed, we bought a new umbrella for the back deck (maybe the best party of the weekend), we went on a long walk and played yard games.  Oh, and we ate some epic food.  Like this shrimp burger.

You guys!  I can’t even explain how delicious this burger is.  Like, I’m speechless.  And I’m warning you, I may make this again very, very soon.

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The only thing that would make this burger even better would be local shrimp from our favorite seafood shack at the beach.

Shrimp is chopped in a food processor and then mixed with Panko breadcrumbs, an egg, some dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, dried basil, smoked paprika and onion powder.  The burgers are cooked in a little olive oil on the stovetop.

The bun is a Hawaiian hamburger bun that I cooked in a little butter on the stovetop.  On top of the bun is a chipotle cream that’s simply sour cream, chipotle sauce and lime juice.  So smoky, so good.  After the sauce, a shrimp burger.  And then some sliced avocado for creaminess.  And finally, I piled on some of the fresh salsa that’s a mix of strawberries, pineapple, red onion, cilantro, toasted coconut (!!!!) and lime juice.  So refreshing!

This burger is everything.

 

Fried Mozzarella and Caramelized Peach Caprese Burger

You guys!  The past six days were perfect.  I promise I’ll give you a better recap of our long weekend at Ocean Isle Beach tomorrow.  But today, today I have a burger.  (Yep!  You can cross it off the list.)

If you know Big Guy and I at all, you know that we went down to the beach with a menu in hand.  We stopped in Wilmington on the way to the beach last Thursday and gathered all the necessary ingredients.  Burgers just so happened to be on the menu on Saturday night.

And with the burger I have homemade hamburger buns.

These buns are ready in 40-minutes and don’t require any time to rise.  Winning.  The buns turned out a little more dense than I would have liked but they were delicious.  I am certain it was the baker and not the recipe to blame so I’ll try for a little fluffier buns next time.

The burger buns were stuffed with incredible ingredients.

Local raised beef (from our SoCo delivery)

Crispy fried mozzarella (that was oh-so-melty and delicious inside)

Herbaceous basil (that added just the right amount of freshness)

Juicy, ripe grilled peaches (that added a hint of sweetness that I crave with savory burgers)

Balsamic drizzle (tangy and delicious)

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On the side, grilled corn on the cob with a compound butter of simply softened butter and basil.

This burger is what summer is all about.

The night was made complete with this view.