Firecracker Cookies

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I’ve been on a cookie kick for the last week or so. I mixed up batches of my favorites for a few parties last weekend so I wanted to try something new for this weekend’s festivities. These were super fun and super easy. You can make these with your favorite sugar cookie and buttercream recipes, or just use packages – whichever your schedule allows.

Adding pop rocks on top makes these firecrackers for your tongue but you want to add them right before serving or the moisture of the icing will activate all of the “popping” early.

FirecrackerCookies

Firecracker Cookies
(from momdot)

Your favorite sugar cookies
White icing
Strawberry or Watermelon PopRocks
Red, White and Blue Sprinkles

Prepare your favorite sugar cookies. Once cook, frost and decorate with sanding sugar and sprinkles. Add Pop Rocks right before serving.


Red, White & Blue Salad

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We just finished up our annual June celebrating marathon. It always seems like everything happens this month and we end up over-indulging in party food. Rather than keep the trend going, I’m planning to make some really fresh, seasonal meals for the July 4th weekend, including this salad.

We’ve had really beautiful berries in the stores lately so this will be a perfect accompaniment to any grilled meal we cook up this weekend.

RedWhiteBlueSalad

 

Red, White & Blue Salad
(adapted slightly from Green Lite Bites)
Serves 4 as a side

8 oz. baby spinach
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup quartered strawberries
1/4 cup feta cheese
3-4 Tbsp. poppyseed dressing

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and dressing until evenly coated. Toss in the berries and transfer to serving bowl. Top with feta. Serve immediately.


Chicken Fajita Kabobs

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Meat on sticks! You knew it was going to happen.

I really love this version of kabobs. It’s sort of like tacos on the grill. We ate these over Cilantro Lime Rice and it was a great, summer meal – and using the grill and rice cooker meant we weren’t heating up the house with the stove. Perfect!

ChickenFajitaKebabs

Chicken Fajita Kabobs
(from Well Plated)
Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp. canola oil
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large red onion
Salsa, sour cream and guacamole, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, lime juice, zest, chili powder, cumin, garlic, jalapeno and salt. Add chicken and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate for at leas an hour.

Cut the bell peppers and onion into chunks.

Thread the marinated chicken, peppers and onions onto skewers.

Heat grill to medium-high and spray with non-stick spray. Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning once or twice.

Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.


Baked Blueberry French Toast

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What's Baking Logo

We celebrated Mark’s birthday this past weekend with a trip to Boston to visit family and friends. It was an awesome, albeit busy, weekend without much birthday fuss – aka, perfect for him. The last few years, I’ve made him French Toast for breakfast on the weekend of his birthday because it’s his favorite. Knowing we’d be away, I baked up the traditional breakfast a few weekends ago when we had a lazy morning. He loved it.

There have been beautiful berries in the stores around here recently and adding fresh blueberries to the French toast was a wonderful idea. One little change made this feel so fresh! This tasted more like traditional French toast then the popular casserole versions but was still very hands-off, which made me happy. It also fit in with this month’s What’s Baking theme – baking with fresh fruit. You can check out all the great recipes submitted later this month at Sweet Beginnings.

BakedBlueberryFrenchToast

Baked Blueberry French Toast
(slightly adapted from Family Fresh Cooking)
Serves 4

1 loaf Challah bread, sliced into at least 8 thick slices
5 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl,  beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk, maple syrup, salt and cinnamon.

Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture turning to coat. Let the excess drip off and place on a baking sheet. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then top with blueberries.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.


Cilantro-Lime Rice

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I think pretty much every food blogger (and Chipotle fan) has already made this. Why did it take me so long? I’m super lazy about side dishes.

And, I ran across a version that used the rice cooker. Because, if we’re being honest, I suck at cooking rice any other way. This came out perfectly, though, and will definitely be in the regular rotation going forward!

CilantroLimeRice

Cilantro Lime Rice
(from Shari Blogs)
Serves 4

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. canola oil, divided
Juice of 1/2 a lime
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

In a rice cooker, combine the rice, water, salt and 1 tsp. of canola oil.  Cook on the white rice cycle.

When done, stir in remaining canola oil, lime juice and cilantro. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.


Taco Spaghetti

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I love kids television. I would totally pick the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon over most adult shows any day. I know what you’re thinking, what does that have to do with anything?

Well, a few years ago I binge-watched iCarly and one of their meals of choice was spaghetti tacos. Which was obviously supposed to be a show joke but since the show was so popular, it became a real thing. I’ve had it in the back of my head that maybe, possibly, at some point I’d try them… just to see.

And then I ran across this recipe and I immediately knew this would be a much better take on the iconic iCarly meal. I’m always a fan of one-pot meals and this one didn’t disappoint!

TacoSpaghetti

Taco Spaghetti
{from Ready, Set, Eat)
Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 1/2 cups water
8 oz. spaghetti, broken in half
Sour cream, for serving
Avocado, for serving

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef. Add taco seasoning, tomatoes and water. Stir to combine. Stir in the spaghetti. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.

Serve topped with sour cream and avocado.


Strawberry Lemon Sun Tea

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My first semester of college, I had a really mothering professor. She taught us how to take the train to Philadelphia. She clued us in on the best places to eat on campus. And she offered to bring us coffee to class. In one of the early classes, when I wasn’t indulging, she commented that if I could make it through college without developing a coffee habit, I’d probably never drink it.

She was right, so far. I’m really not a coffee person.

Or, tea. Unless it’s iced and fruited up, like this one. This is a perfect summer tea.

StrawberryLemonSunTea

Strawberry Lemon Sun Tea
(from Wonky Wonderful)
Serves 2-3

2 lemons
1 cup strawberries, halved
3 Tea bags
Water

Into a 24 oz. jar, juice one of the lemons. Slice the other lemon and add it to the jar along with the strawberries. Add the tea bags and fill the jar with water.

Sit in the sun for 2-3 hours, then remove the tea bags and chill. Serve over ice.


Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

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I’m kind of in denial that June is already here. My husband and I are both turning thirty this month. Next month we’ll be celebrating our sixth anniversary and Jake’s first birthday. I mean, how is that really possible? Add to that two planned trips, out of town friends coming for a week, 4th of July and our calendar is filling up really, really fast. I’m already getting anxious that the summer is going to get away from me.

The only way I’m combatting my anxiety, so far, is by starting early. We’ve had the baby pool set up for a few weeks and I’m plowing through my folder of grilling recipes. We’ve already made my beloved grilled pizza a few times so it was time to move onto another favorite – meat on sticks.

Beef, prosciutto, provolone and Italian spices all wrapped up and grilled – how could this not be a winner?

ItalianStuffedSteak

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak
(from The Chunky Chef)
Serves 4

4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 small shallot, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. flank steak
4 oz. deli-sliced prosciutto
4 oz. deli-sliced provolone cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.

Butterfly the steak and pound out thin. Top with herb mixture, prosciutto and provolone. Roll up, hold together with toothpicks and cut into pinwheels.

Grill over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until steak reaches desired doneness.


Grilled Bread with Rosemary Dipping Sauce

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As soon as warmer weather hits, I want to grill everything. I’m pretty sure that 90% of the recipes I’ve pulled out of magazines or bookmarked in the past month have been grilling-related. Besides just feeling summery, it generally means that Mark does more of the cooking and there are fewer dishes to wash – wins all around.

This was a great way to serve a loaf of Italian bread. I usually end up making garlic bread or just slicing and buttering – this was a nice, different treat. And with the fresh herbs starting to come out of the garden now, it’s especially perfect!

BreadRosemaryDip

Grilled Bread with Rosemary Dipping Sauce
(from Tastes Lovely)
Serves 6-8 as a side

1 loaf Italian bread, cut in half horizontally
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic

1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Cut the bread in half, horizontally and brush each cut side with olive oil. Grill on high for 2-3 minutes, until you have char marks. Remove from the grill and rub the cut side with the clove of garlic. Slide into strips

On a deep plate, stir together the olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Add the balsamic vinegar.

Serve the bread along with the oil for dipping.


Cookies and Cream Popsicles

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We had a really lovely Memorial Day Weekend. Mark’s been working long hours the last few weeks and his CFA exam is only a few weeks away so things have been generally crazy around here. Having three days of him home with no real plans was glorious.  We played in the baby pool with Jake, had a picnic with friends, walked over to the town parade – such a perfect, laid-back weekend.

And I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, which is something that’s been hard to do lately. I got to try out a whole bunch of summery recipes I’m super excited to share – but figured that kicking off summer with popsicles was a sweet way to start.

Oreos are a favorite around here so these were a big hit. I got four popsicles out of the recipe but my molds are fairly large so I think you’d get six with most others.

CookiesAndCreamPopsicles

Cookies and Cream Popsicles
(from WonkyWonderful)
Makes 4-6

3/4 cup milk
1/2 frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 Oreos

In a blender, combine the milk, whipped topping an sugar. Add the Oreos and pulse until they are small bits.

Freeze in popsicle molds until solid.