Appetizers

pineapple-jalapeno-salsa

Happy Friday! Favorite day of the week. I’m so original! My kids are getting soooo close to turning 1, and every day it seems they have a new skill. Bax is running around, Price is taking a few steps and trying sooooo hard to copy his brother. This might be the cutest thing ever, by the way. Bax will fly past him on his feet and poor Price gets almost panicky and starts launching himself off of stuff. He can take a few steps and I’m sure he’ll be walking any day now, little cutie. He could use a few more steps to add some definition to his knees/thighs (so far I’ve seen no concrete evidence that he actually HAS knees). Other skills? Price loves taking off his diaper and Bax loves poking people in the eye. Like really hard.

On to food. This pineapple salsa goes on anything. Anything. Use it as a dip, but I highly recommend it as a topper for your grilled fish or chicken of choice. We had it on top of blackened salmon and it was perfect. Talk about a perfect summer dinner party recipe!

Recipe

  • 1 1/4 cup pineapple, diced into small 1/4-in. pieces
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons canned green chiles or diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped white or sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste

I used fresh pre-cut pineapple from the grocery store, then chopped it up even smaller and used 1 tablespoon of the extra pineapple juice from the container. Place the pineapple and juice in a bowl, then add in remaining ingredients. Mix together, then let marinate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Grilled Caprese Salad

grilled-caprese-salad

I’m feeling very uninspired in the world of fashion lately. Anyone else? Denim in particular. I mean WTF. Wide leg, cropped, high-waisted, frayed…basically all the styles that look good on no one all rolled into one jean. So apparently if you don’t know what type of new denim you should get for the summer/fall, just go to the store and find the pair that looks the absolute worst on you – and get those. I also heard that pinch rolling is coming back, and skinnies are out. It literally took me years to get into the skinny trend because it just didn’t suit my body type…now I’m firmly on board and have a closet full of skinnies and they’re out. Well forget it, Fashion 2017, I’m skipping you entirely this year and maybe I’ll check back in the spring. Of course, who am I kidding? When do I wear regular clothes anyway? I’m definitely pushing the boundaries of appropriate “athleisure” on a daily basis.

Onto food. I love the caprese combination. It’s perfect to me, and I like it in nearly every form: sandwich, pizza, flatbread, cold salad…and now, hot salad. I put it on the grill last weekend and I looooved the melty cheesy touch and the sweet, cooked down tomatoes.

Recipe

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • ~1/2 ball fresh mozzarella
  • olive oil & salt
  • ~2-3 tablespoons fresh basil
  • balsamic glaze (store bought)

Cut the tomato into thick slices, remove the seedy/watery part, place them on a paper towel and blot to remove excess moisture.  Season with salt.  Place the tomatoes on a thick piece of foil sprayed with nonstick spray and brush with just a touch of oil. Grill on medium for about 3-4 minutes (on the foil). Slice the mozzarella into thick pieces, and place a piece on half of the tomatoes. Cover each tomato with another tomato slice and cover grill just for a minute or two to melt. Remove from grill. Top with fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

raspberry-almond-ricotta-toast

Is there anything better in life than Friday? And before you say Saturday, consider that when it’s Friday, TOMORROW is Saturday which gives you something to look forward to. It’s the best mental situation. And remember the good ol’ days of TGIF on TBS? Was it TBS? Can’t remember but man I loved Full House. Wanted to be Stephanie Tanner and wanted to date Uncle Jesse (still do). And PS – did you know the Olson twins are NOT identical? They look exactly the same.

And since it’s Friday, I decided to celebrate at lunch. A lunch for one with this absolutely delicious ricotta toast (every time I say ricotta in my head I roll by T’s like Giada), topped with slivered almonds and the quickest easiest raspberry jam.

Recipe (1)

  • 1 piece good sourdough or honey wheat toast
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons Ricotta  (or cream cheese spread would be just as amazing)
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

To make the quick jam, place the raspberries and sugar in a sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium high, and crush the raspberries with a rubber spatula. Mix together, and bring to a low boil for just a couple minutes.  Transfer to a fine mesh strainer to remove some of the liquid (or just tilt the pan over the sink and hold back the thick jam). Toast your bread to your heart’s content. Spread ricotta or cream cheese on it (or goat!), sprinkle with almonds, and top with jam. Babies love it too.

 

 

Sweet Potato Skins

sweet-potato-skins

Remember when potato skins were a real novelty? If you grew up in small town Wisconsin I bet you do. I feel like potato skins were reserved for restaurant chains like TGI Fridays and California Pizza Kitchen. God, when I was a kid I would have killed to have one of those restaurants near us. The only reason I knew they existed was because I got to travel to exotic far away places like Appleton for gymnastics sometimes. (if you’re not from Wisconsin, Appleton is about 90 miles away from where I grew up; they had a mall with a Disney store and a real food court).

Anyway, I loved potato skins but I could only get them when I got to travel outside the county. Oh my, how our perspectives change. How fantastic that back then life didn’t get any better than potato skins and the Disney store.

These are really a lot different than Friday’s potato skins, obviously. For one, I don’t like to fry things. So these are baked (at a high temperature to give them some crispiness).  I also used sweet potatoes, because honestly my babies love them and I was going for a two-for-one meal here. I decided to keep the toppings traditional – bacon and cheese – and let me tell you, the flavor combo of sweet and savory is a real winner.

Recipe

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • ~ 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar + jack)
  • ~1/4 cup cooked & crumbled bacon
  • Canola oil
  • S&P

Start by baking the potatoes. Ours were HUGE (come on, Central Market, what kind of steroids are these guys on??). So they took about an hour in a 350 degree oven. Let them cool, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out most of the middle, about 1/4-1/2 inch remaining around the skin. Reserve this for whatever your heart desires.

Increase oven temp to 425.  Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet, place the potato skins on there skin side up, and brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.  Roast until slightly crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, flip over, add cheese and bacon to each, and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes (about 5) until the cheese is melted.

sweet-strawberry-basil-toast

Sometimes I would like to go back to the Summer days of picking strawberries with my mom and sisters. Weren’t those the best? Fresh strawberries, a day outside, and nothing on your agenda but strawberry pickin’ and swim lessons. Maybe a grilled hot dog when you got home. Of course it all sounds so blissful to me now, but being a particularly finicky kid my mom also reminds me of all the complaints about the heat, the sun (you would think those were the same..they weren’t), the mosquitoes, and of course the kneeling. Luckily I toughed it out enough times that the strawberry picking trips are all rolled up into one amazing and comforting memory.

These strawberries, are not fresh (by the definition of me picking them straight off the plant or whatever it’s called). I got them at the store, because I don’t know where to strawberry pick in Dallas. Anyone know? I would like to start my baby boys young so they can withstand the harsh picking conditions.

But this toast will make your summer. Sweet, flavorful, and just a tad savory from the cream cheese. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or as an app!

Recipe (2)

  • 2 pieces good Sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese spread (lite or regular)
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons chopped basil
  • honey drizzle (optional)

Toast the slices of bread. Spread cream cheese evenly over the warm toast, top with strawberries, basil, and drizzle with honey.

 

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

bbq-chicken-flatbread

I’ll tell you what’s not advised when you have two 10 month olds: taking them to a fancy ladies’ lunch. Like the kind of place where you drink wine, eat tea sandwiches, and women talk in sort of a hushed whisper. I love the place so much (for their tuna melt mainly), and it honestly never occurred to me that it definitely wasn’t baby friendly. And my husband wasn’t with me to share the burden of two busy bees. Without going into all the specifics, I’ll just give you a few highlights:

1. Bax crawling out of the high chair onto the table

2. Price screeching at the top of his lungs (in delight, but still)

3. Both babies playing with the sugar packets (which I allowed at first because it kept them quiet), only to have them each swallow at least 3-4, one getting stuck in a throat, and at least 77 ending up on the floor

4. Me letting Bax on the ground for a second so he could stand/walk around the table, getting distracted by my conversation with my friend for 30 seconds (silly me), and then getting notified by the ladies two tables over that he was in fact under their table

5. Price grabbing and spilling some of my Rose (every sip counts, buddy)

6. Me sweating through my white dress (90% physical wrangling, 10% stress)


All in all, not relaxing. But, my tuna melt was great. And the sly little smile Price gave me when I loaded him into the car made my heart melt and the memory fade away (sort of…though we will not be going back).


So, because some things in life are a little harder lately, my recipes have gotten easier. We went to a pool party the other day and the ‘bring a side’ request that would normally exhilarate me and result in at least 5 hours of alone time in the kitchen, has become a problem solving situation. What delicious thing can I make that’s fast, easy, and a crowd pleaser?


THIS.


Recipe

  • 4 pieces Naan flatbread
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded 
  • ~1/2 cup sweet barbecue sauce
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 400.  Spread BBQ sauce over the Naan (please use naan here as opposed to some other flatbread…it’s soooo good).  Top with chicken and mozzarella. Bake in oven about 9-11 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges are crisp and slightly browned. 

PS – I planned to buy rotisserie chicken here to cut down my prep time even more, but it turns out the rotisserie chickens aren’t out at 8AM (thanks Whole Foods, I didn’t need another reminder that my days start too early). So if you can’t find rotisserie chicken or prepped chicken from the salad bar, just boil the chicken breasts in seasoned water for about 10-20 minutes, depending on thickness.

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