25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway!

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

September 1st is tomorrow! I can’t believe how fast the summer went by. .  but I guess it’s always like that. Well, some of you are already back in the swing of things and have already started school again and are back in your normal routines. We go back to school tomorrow!

Am I ready? Heck no. But it doesn’t matter because it’s happening.

Both of my girls will be in school now Monday-Friday so I’m doing a happy dance over here. And fall (one of my favorite seasons) is right around the corner. .  so I’m sharing sweet treats with you today. Because if there’s a season where I love baking, it’s fall.

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

And when we talk baking, I immediately go to chocolate.

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

Because, well, chocolate.

So, enjoy these treats today and enter the giveaway down belowGhirardelli Chocolate is one of my favorite chocolates to bake with so someone needs to win this $100 Ghirardelli gift card! They also have fabulous premium cocoa powder, chocolate baking bars, chocolate baking chips, brownie mixes and more! So, use up that $100 and stock up your pantry! And from this list of cakes, cookies, brownies and more, you’ll have plenty of inspiration!

Enjoy!

25 Chocolate Sweet Treats!!

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

1) Best Ever Coconut Macaroons, only 5 ingredients! (photo above)

2) Double Chocolate Muffins from Baked By Rachel. We love muffins and these look double-y amazing!

3) Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Quinoa Cookies from Well Plated. These have my favorite things. . in a cookie!

4) Flourless Chocolate Cakes from All Day I Dream About Food. I can’t wait to try this cake!

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

5) Chocolate Merlot Cake . .  I looovvveeeee this cake! (Photo above) and yes, if you eat a slice, you’ll want it to be that big!

6) Chocolate Zucchini Cake from Shugary Sweets. I love baking with zucchini! Love this cake!

7) Easy Texas Sheet Cake from The Domestic Rebel. I want the entire sheet cake!

8) Double Chocolate Tartlets from That Skinny Chick Can Bake. These tartlets are the prettiest tartlets ever!

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

9) Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from Blahnik Baker (photo above; totally making these for my girls! We can’t wait!)

10) No Bake Turtle Cookies from The Recipe Rebel. Turtle cookies?! Brilliant!

11) Chocolate Mousse Pie with Caramel Drizzle and Sea Salt from Very Culinary. This pie is everything.

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

12) Chocolate Avocado Bread (pictured above; this is amazing. . but I’m biased)

13) Classic Brownies from Fake Ginger . . these are perfection!

14) Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Bourbon Cinnamon Buttercream from Eats Well With Others . . did you see that? Bourbon Cinnamon Buttercream!!!

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

15) Chocolate Pound Cake from Grandbaby Cakes. This cake! WOW-ZA!

16) Peanut Butter Cup Cake from Just About Baked. The perfect cake for peanut butter cup lovers like me!

17) Bourbon Chocolate Tipsy Cake from I Am Baker. Again, bourbon. And just pure awesomeness. This cake is amazing!

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

18) Easy Indoor Skillet S’mores Dip from Life Made Sweeter. Because INDOOR S’MORES. ’nuff said.

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

19) Chocolate Mini Bundts with Candy Coated Chocolates. . for my love of mini bundts!

20) Thick and Chewy Chocolate Orange Coconut Oil Cookies from Cooking LSL. Did you read that title?! You’ve got to check out these cookies!

21) Nutella Swirled Peanut Butter Blondies from Urban Bakes . . Nutella and peanut butter . . YES! These are gorgeous!

22) Chocolate Coconut Bread from Broma Bakery . . because everything Sarah bakes is gorgeous and beautiful!

23) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins from Pumpkin n’ Spice. These are muffins I would bake everyday if I could!

24) Zucchini Brownies from Crazy for Crust. You gotta have at least TWO fabulous brownie recipes when sharing sweet treats. Period.

25 Sweet Treats + A $100 Ghirardelli Giveaway

25) Salted Caramel Mocha Heaven & Hell Cake from Baking A Moment. You guys! This cake is amazing. Just look at it. Dang!!

I talked about fall and baking and didn’t even share any pumpkin, apple or cinnamon desserts. I’ll have to do another round-up soon!

The Giveaway!!

 

Giveaway open to residents within the United States only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by me!

 

Filet Mignon Burger

Filet mignon burger with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, dijon mustard on a toasted brioche bun. It doesn't get any better than this. #ad

You guys!

It’s almost that time of the year! Two more weeks until the start of football season. Fans and tailgaters everywhere are getting excited.

Now, for those who don’t know, I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. .  where they basically teach you how to throw a football, boy or girl, at a young age. I didn’t really enjoy playing sports of any kind until my college days where I only played for fun but I’m glad that I finally developed an appreciation for the game.

Now, I still enjoy watching the games . . I’m definitely not as into the games as my husband is but I can still watch with him. I’m more concerned about the food.

What do we have? Is there enough food for everyone? and if we have friends over watching the game with us, will they leave feeling happy and full?

Filet mignon burger with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, dijon mustard on a toasted brioche bun. It doesn't get any better than this. #ad

Enter these glorious filet mignon steaks from Omaha Steaks. And I’m grilling them on my KitchenAid grill. It has a secondary searing zone with an intense heat ceramic infrared burner. Yes, I know. Isn’t that the coolest thing ever? and I grilled these!

If you guys aren’t familiar with Omaha Steaks, these are the crème de la crème of steaks. Period. And my dad actually introduced us to Omaha Steaks when we were kids. I remember how happy we would get when we got that box in the mail.

Filet mignon burger with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, dijon mustard on a toasted brioche bun. It doesn't get any better than this. #ad

Now, I know you’re thinking filet mignon on a burger?! What? Even my dad’s jaw is on the floor right now. But stay with me for a second and think about it. If you’ve had filet mignon before, you know how tender, soft and flavorful the meat is, right? And I know some people wouldn’t dare put this meat on a burger. .  but come on you guys. .

Filet mignon burger with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, dijon mustard on a toasted brioche bun. It doesn't get any better than this. #ad

Caramelized onions, dijon mustard and a toasted brioche bun? Isn’t this just calling your name?

Filet mignon burger with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, dijon mustard on a toasted brioche bun. It doesn't get any better than this. #ad

Paul says if we serve these burgers at our next party, no one is going home and they’ll keep wanting to come back for more. I hope he’s right!

I’m sharing the full recipe over on the Omaha Steaks blog today! I’d love any comments over there!

Filet Mignon Burger
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 12

Ingredients
For the caramelized onions:
  • 5 slices thick cut bacon
  • 4 pounds onions, peeled and sliced thin (I used Vidalia onions)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
For the burgers:
  • 6 (6 oz.) filet mignon steaks
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh arugula
  • 12 brioche buns, toasted

Instructions
  1. Using a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook the bacon slices until crispy, for about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the cooked, crispy bacon from the pan and place onto a paper towel lined plate.
  2. For the rest of the instructions and to see the complete recipe card, please visit SteakBytes.com

For the complete recipe, please visit the Omaha Steaks blog, SteakBytes.com

Filet mignon burger with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, dijon mustard on a toasted brioche bun. It doesn't get any better than this. #ad

Disclosure: This is a paid, sponsored post in partnership with Omaha Steaks. All opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting me in partnering with the brands and products that I use and love.

 

 

Eggplant Mapo Tofu

Eggplant Mapo Tofu. Make one of your favorite Chinese food dishes at home! Just follow this recipe and you can adjust the amount of spiciness as desired. #spon #Chinesefood

We still have a week left before we get back into the back to school routine and I plan on kicking back and enjoying every minute of it.

I’ve been cooking a lot and trying new things and you can tell if I’ve had a productive day by the amount of dirty dishes in my sink. And if we are all (kids included) able to actually eat what I’ve made for dinner, it’s a double win.

Eggplant Mapo Tofu. Make one of your favorite Chinese food dishes at home! Just follow this recipe and you can adjust the amount of spiciness as desired. #spon #Chinesefood

Mapo Tofu is one of my favorite Chinese food dishes. I love tofu and I love spicy. We always order this when we get takeout and so I’m happy to say that this version might be better than than the one we get at House of Mei here in Madison. This was a little too spicy for my kids so I did make a mild version for them. But it’s all good.

I’m waiting for the day where I can just make one dish and we can all eat spicy food together. But that probably won’t be for a long time.

Eggplant Mapo Tofu. Make one of your favorite Chinese food dishes at home! Just follow this recipe and you can adjust the amount of spiciness as desired. #spon #Chinesefood

I used my trusty KitchenAid® 7-Ply Stainless Steel with Copper Core 10″ Skillet. This is my absolute favorite skillet (yes, I’ve said this before) and I use it all the time. The low, gently angled sides not only make stirring and flipping easier, but provide a larger surface area for quickly cooking, sautéing, and searing meats and vegetables.

Eggplant Mapo Tofu. Make one of your favorite Chinese food dishes at home! Just follow this recipe and you can adjust the amount of spiciness as desired. #spon #Chinesefood

With any Asian food dish, there are varying degrees of spiciness and preference. Play around with this recipe and add more or less heat and spice, depending on what you want. I hope you give this recipe a try! If you like eggplant and Chinese Mapo Tofu, you simply must try this!

Eggplant Mapo Tofu. Make one of your favorite Chinese food dishes at home! Just follow this recipe and you can adjust the amount of spiciness as desired. #spon #Chinesefood

And I’m using my new boards today! Food blogger friends: my husband had the brilliant idea of googling wood floor companies in the area to see if any had remnant pieces of reclaimed wood. And I scored big! Hooray!

I hope you try my Eggplant Mapo Tofu!

Eggplant Mapo Tofu
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 to 3 fresh cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 to 3 green onions, finely diced (white and green parts)+ more for garnish
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons spicy black bean paste (or hot bean sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground
  • ⅓ cup spicy bean sauce + more if needed (as shown above)
  • 14 ounce container of silken tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • ½ cup Chinese eggplant, cubed
  • ½ cup eggplant, cubed
  • Serve with white or brown rice

Instructions
  1. Using a small mixing bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.
  2. Using your KitchenAid® 7-Ply Stainless Steel with Copper Core 10″ Skillet over medium high heat, add the sesame oil, garlic, ginger and green onions and cook until fragrant, for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the hot bean paste, ground Sichuan pepper and spicy bean sauce. Taste and adjust ingredients according to your taste. Continue sautéing for a few more minutes, or until heated through.
  3. For the rest of the instructions and to see the complete recipe card, please click over to The Kitchenthusiast.

To see the complete recipe card, please visit The Kitchenthusiast.

 

Eggplant Mapo Tofu. Make one of your favorite Chinese food dishes at home! Just follow this recipe and you can adjust the amount of spiciness as desired. #spon #Chinesefood

Disclosure: This is a paid, sponsored post in partnership with KitchenAid USA. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting me in partnering with the brands and products that I use and love.

 

 

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar! A quick and easy to make salad of black-eyed peas lightly pickled in a vinaigrette-style dressing mixed with veggies! The perfect snack or appetizer! #ad

I was compensated by PARTNERS, A Tasteful Choice Company, for my time in creating this post. All opinions are my own.

It’s funny. There are days when my kids magically know how to be on their best behavior, without me telling them or any ice cream bribes. It was a Wednesday and I was visiting my aesthetician (yes, I have a skin care person. As I’ve gotten older, I need more help! If you’re in Madison and need one, let me know. Katie is fabulous) and had to bring the girls with me. Whenever I have errands like this and they have to come with me, I bring the bag.

Some of you parents might be familiar with this. The bag is my huge tote bag with snacks, bandaids, coloring books, crayons, bubbles, books and more snacks. Oh, and water and maybe some toys for Madeline. Yes, I’m always prepared. Or I try to be.

Texas Caviar! A quick and easy to make salad of black-eyed peas lightly pickled in a vinaigrette-style dressing mixed with veggies! The perfect snack or appetizer! #ad

On this day, of course, nothing in the bag kept them busy and they were getting up every 5 minutes, knocking on the door and happily going in and out of the room I was in. Fortunately, Katie is the sweetest and wasn’t bothered by the every 5 minute interruptions and the gal in the lobby behind the front desk was also trying to keep them busy. As we were leaving, I was apologizing but they kept saying, “No worries at all! We loved your girls! At least they are happy kids!”

There was no whining. No, “I’m bored, when are we going home?” They weren’t exactly on their best behavior but they did pretty good for the time that we were there and they were polite. And again, there was no whining. Which, for me, is huge! At times like this, when we get compliments from other people regarding our children, as a parent, it kinda makes you smile and laugh at the same time. Because we know what they can really be like at home.

We are officially a little more than a week away from the first day of school. I’m excited to get back into our routine and to get the girls back in school and learning! We’ve had a great summer and I have loved the outings and moments we’ve spent with each other.

Texas Caviar! A quick and easy to make salad of black-eyed peas lightly pickled in a vinaigrette-style dressing mixed with veggies! The perfect snack or appetizer! #ad

Every year I look forward to catching up with the girls when they get home from school and hearing about their days. I always have snacks ready to go at 3pm and we sit down together, and catch up on things before homework time. There are, of course, some days where I still have some work to do and I’ve learned that as long as I have the good snacks out, they will sit and munch away happily and will let me finish up some last minute emails in peace.

PARTNERS gluten free crackers made with cassava root flour and a blend of five ancient grains: amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. #ad #glutenfree

Lately, we’ve been munching on these PARTNERS Free For All Kitchen crackers. We love to dip these crackers in hummus, salsa, almond butter and this Texas Caviar!

Texas Caviar! A quick and easy to make salad of black-eyed peas lightly pickled in a vinaigrette-style dressing mixed with veggies! The perfect snack or appetizer! #ad

These crackers are gluten-free and corn, soy and rice-free! They are made with cassava root flour and a blend of five ancient grains: amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. Honestly, my kids loved these. I was actually kind of surprised because these are crackers I would normally like and buy for myself, but they honestly loved these crackers!

Distribution of Free for All Kitchen products is expanding across the country, with products appearing in many new stores across the East and West Coasts. For a full list of stores carrying PARTNERS products, visit their website.

PARTNERS gluten free crackers made with cassava root flour and a blend of five ancient grains: amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. #ad #glutenfree

Have y’all tried Texas Caviar?

I was born and raised in Texas and didn’t have this until my adult years. My sister first made this for me and it’s quite addicting. Texas caviar is a salad of black-eyed peas lightly pickled in a vinaigrette-style dressing. It’s so easy to make and tastes better after it’s been in the fridge for a few hours, so make some in the morning and enjoy this with your kids for an afternoon snack!

Texas Caviar
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Texas Caviar can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated in a sealed container. Recipe makes about 4 to 5 cups of Texas Caviar. COOK TIME listed is the marinating time in the refrigerator.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack or Appetizer

Ingredients
For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can golden sweet whole kernel corn, no salt added, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
  • Serve with crackers or chips

Instructions
For the dressing:
  1. Combine the vinegar, garlic, salt and cumin in a small bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the olive oil until completely incorporated. Set aside.
For the salad:
  1. Using a large mixing bowl, add in the corn, black-eyed peas, tomato, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onion and cilantro or parsley. Mix together and pour dressing over the top. Gently mix together again and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

 

Texas Caviar! A quick and easy to make salad of black-eyed peas lightly pickled in a vinaigrette-style dressing mixed with veggies! The perfect snack or appetizer! #ad

My kids also love the gluten free Brownie Thins. The Brownie Thins are the newest addition to the Free for All Kitchen product line. You get all the same goodness in a sweet brownie thin cracker! These are great to satisfy those sweet taste buds!

PARTNERS gluten free crackers made with cassava root flour and a blend of five ancient grains: amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. #ad #glutenfree

PARTNERS gluten free crackers made with cassava root flour and a blend of five ancient grains: amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. #ad #glutenfree

To learn more about PARTNERS crackers, visit their Facebook page! I hope you enjoy!

 

Disclosure: I was compensated by PARTNERS, A Tasteful Choice Company, for my time in creating this post. All opinions are my own.

 

Simple Cantaloupe Salad + A Giveaway!

Simple Cantaloupe Salad with pickled red onions and balsamic glaze. Fresh, light and you will love the sweetness from the cantaloupe with the pickled red onions! You’ve got to try this salad!

You guys. This week has finally arrived. It’s a big week!!! And I’m not talking about back to school.

My half marathon is this Saturday!

I’ve been running and training for this race for like the past three to four months. And during that time, I ran a 10k and a 10 mile race. If I can run 10, I certainly can run 13.1 miles, right?

Simple Cantaloupe Salad with pickled red onions and balsamic glaze. Fresh, light and you will love the sweetness from the cantaloupe with the pickled red onions! You’ve got to try this salad!

I’ve been a runner for a good part of my adult life and this will be my second half marathon (the first one was more than 10 years ago!). This time around the training has been great. I have the right shoes: my Saucony Mirage 5. I freaking love these running shoes. I will now wear nothing else. I have the right clothes (and God knows I’ve been spending so much money on running gear it’s not even funny), I have the right fuel and nutrition: the chews and the gels etc and I’ve been following my training program as closely as possible.

So, now this last week. It all comes down to sleep and eating right. I already have a hard time as it is getting enough sleep but one area I know I can do is eating right and eating healthy.

Simple Cantaloupe Salad with pickled red onions and balsamic glaze. Fresh, light and you will love the sweetness from the cantaloupe with the pickled red onions! You’ve got to try this salad!

My plan this week is to load up on the fruits, vegetables, lean meats and a little carbs. I will probably eat a salad for lunch everyday so today I wanted to share my most recent addiction.

This simple cantaloupe salad with pickled red onions and balsamic glaze.

Simple Cantaloupe Salad with pickled red onions and balsamic glaze. Fresh, light and you will love the sweetness from the cantaloupe with the pickled red onions! You’ve got to try this salad!

Eat this as is, or throw on some rotisserie chicken and you are in heaven. This salad, of course, was inspired by this gorgeous cantaloupe I picked up at the market.

Simple Cantaloupe Salad with pickled red onions and balsamic glaze. Fresh, light and you will love the sweetness from the cantaloupe with the pickled red onions! You’ve got to try this salad!

How do you choose a good cantaloupe? I first make sure it looks okay. I won’t choose a cantaloupe if it has bruises, soft spots, moldy patches or cracks. Then, I just go by weight. If they feel heavy, I usually just go for it. There’s also the smell test: Push your fingers on the round section where the vine was attached. It should be slightly soft and should smell fresh and fragrant with a hint of sweetness.

ZWILLING Pro 3-pc Starter Knife Set! Enter to win these fabulous knives! Made in Germany and superior quality! #giveaway

So, once you’ve picked one, you’ve got to cut it, right?

Well, consider this your lucky day because I’m giving away probably the best PRO 3-Piece Starter Knife Set ever.

ZWILLING Pro 3-pc Starter Knife Set! Enter to win these fabulous knives! Made in Germany and superior quality! #giveaway

Have you guys heard of ZWILLING J. A. Henckels knives? These knives are made in Germany and have a unique curved bolster and innovative blade shape. The knives are made to be the most user-friendly knives available to market. The unique blade shape and ergonomic bolster are the result of 280 years of experience in knife making, and the rigorous study of how knives are used.

If you’re interested in learning more, you need to watch this video. It’s the coolest video ever and explains how these knives are made and what the thinking was behind the design and everything.

I now have the entire set and have been treating these knives like my children. With lots of love, attention and with care. These knives cut so well, it’s crazy! The Chef’s knife, which I use everyday, cut through this cantaloupe like butter and it slices tomatoes, onions and all sorts of vegetables with ease. I’m so happy to be able to give away this fabulous starter set, as featured above. The starter set includes: a 3″ Paring Knife, a 5″ Serrated Utility Knife and, or course, the 8″ Chef’s Knife. Be sure to enter below!

Good luck!!

Simple Cantaloupe Salad
 
Prep time

Total time

 

This salad is great as is, but would also be great with some rotisserie chicken on top.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer or Main

Ingredients
For the pickled red onions:
  • ½ of one large red onion; peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Special Equipment: Mason jar with lid
For the salad:
  • mixed greens
  • sliced cantaloupe
  • balsamic glaze or balsamic dressing

Instructions
For the pickled red onions:
  1. Blanch the sliced red onions in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and place directly into mason jar/s.
  2. Heat the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat, whisking until all of the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a light boil and then pour over the onions. Let sit until the onions have softened more and the liquid has cooled, for about 25-30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
For the salad:
  1. Place mixed greens onto a plate and top with sliced cantaloupe. Top with some of the pickled red onions and drizzle on some balsamic glaze, or your favorite balsamic dressing. Enjoy!

 

ZWILLING Pro 3-pc Starter Knife Set! Enter to win these fabulous knives! Made in Germany and superior quality! #giveaway

The Giveaway!

Open to residents within the United States only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: This is not a paid, sponsored post. The knives were sent to me for recipe development and testing purposes. The giveaway is sponsored by ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS.

 

 

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

School supply shopping, done. Clothes shopping, done. Meet the teacher night, done (well, at least for one kid).

So, what’s left? Gotta get my “what to pack for lunch” game plan in place. I’ll be honest, sometimes, dinner leftovers become lunch for the next day  . . but when that doesn’t work out or you don’t actually have dinner leftovers you can pack, you gotta plan, prep and pack!

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

This year, I’m taking the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge to pack a healthier lunchbox for my kids and to start the school year off right. I guess I’ve been lucky in that my kids do actually love fruits and most veggies . . well, my oldest will only eat her raw veggies if she has a creamy ranch dressing to dip them in. But hey, I say if she’s going to eat those carrot sticks and celery, have all the creamy ranch dressing you want!

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

My kids like a lot of variety and get bored with food easily (and won’t do the dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets anymore) so I have to change things up a bit. They also love the bento-style lunch box containers and love their food to be in separate compartments.

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

Did we care about this as kids? I don’t remember being so picky. My food was in plastic baggies and in a brown paper sack most of the time.

But if it will help them actually EAT their lunch, I’m on board and will keep using these fabulous lunch containers.

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

One thing I don’t have time for is cutting their sandwiches into animal shapes. To all you moms and dads out there who do that, I applaud you. But I don’t have time for that. What I do have time for and what my kids love?

Little notes in their lunch! Or jokes or fun facts! My oldest daughter LOVES these. And she will tell her little sister these jokes and they laugh and laugh. Last year, they were all about knock knock jokes. It was too cute.

PFK PYLP Logo Final ®_4.22.14

So, visit Power Your Lunchbox and take the pledge to pack our kids healthy lunches! Power Your Lunchbox will run through September 18 and encourages parents to pack healthy lunch boxes, while supporting children’s hunger relief efforts. For every pledge taken online, $1 will be donated by the sponsors to children’s nutrition programs through Feeding America.

After you sign up and take the pledge, you will have the chance to download those free printable lunchbox cards for your kids, as shown above! You will also find more lunchbox recipes and tips!

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

 

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas!

Here are some great lunchbox ideas to get you started! These are actual lunches I have made and packed for myself and my kids and some other great lunch ideas from some of my favorite bloggers! I hope you can find something here that you will want to make or something that will inspire you!

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

1) Tuna Veggie Rolls (above), using canned albacore tuna

2) Hummus & spinach sandwich, grape tomatoes, sliced figs with baked sweet potato fries from Super Healthy Kids

3) Zucchini Fritters from Just A Taste

4) Baked Fish Sticks with Homemade Tartar Sauce from The Lemon Bowl

5) Inside-Out Sandwiches with Apple Slices and Trail Mix from Very Culinary

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

6) Brown rice, tofu and soy sauce (above)

7) Baked Corn Dogs from The Baker Mama

8) Homemade Spaghetti-O’s from Fake Ginger

9) Zucchini Tater Tots from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

10) Vegetarian Spring Rolls from Weelicious

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

11) Easy Soba Noodles (above)

12) Fabulous Fish Tacos from Super Healthy Kids

13) Mashed Potato Waffles from Healthy Nibbles and Bits

14) Asian Pasta Salad from Eats Well With Others

15) Healthier Creamy Potato Leek Soup from Joyful Healthy Eats

16) Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese from Well Plated

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

17) Super Easy Pasta Salad (above)

18) Hummus Veggie Wraps from Weelicious

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

19) Asian Spring Rolls (above), all of the veggies can be prepped and cut the night before!

20) Carrot Fritters from Oh My Veggies

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

21) Baked Veggie Taquitos with Black Beans (above)

22) Chicken Parmesan Meatballs from Real Food by Dad

23) Cauliflower Pizza from Food Faith Fitness

24) Kale and Apple Soup from Floating Kitchen

25 Healthy Back To School Lunch Ideas and Tips to get you, your kids and the new school year off to a great start!

25) Crunchy Egg Salad (recipe down below!)

Now I have cool, new freezable lunch bags to keep lunches like this egg salad, fresh and cool! *For the apple, we’ve used both Granny Smith and Gala apples.

  • 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise + more if needed
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon red onion, finely diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup apple, diced*
  • salt to taste

Using a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix together. Spread on bread slices or enjoy with crackers.

 

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Produce for Kids. I was not paid for this post but did receive a gift card, the Bentology lunch box containers above and some coupons. I believe in this campaign and hope that you can help me spread the word about Power Your Lunchbox so we can raise more money for children’s nutrition programs through Feeding America.

 

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Salad

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Salad! Fresh, flavorful and your slow cooker does all the work for you! This is the perfect meal! Make a salad or sandwich or eat this with mashed potatoes! You can’t go wrong! #slowcooker #crockpot

I’ve definitely had my fair share of salads this summer. I mean, with all the fresh, in-season produce, how can you not?!

Whenever I see heirloom tomatoes or yellow tomatoes, I am immediately drawn to them. I can’t just walk away. I have to pick some up. I picked these up at my local farmer’s market. My favorite way to eat them is by throwing them into a salad or simply slicing them up and eating them with some salad dressing, just plain and nothing else.

I hear though that I have to try a tomato sandwich. Like just fresh, sliced tomatoes, with a little salt, on white bread with mayonnaise. Anyone drooling yet?

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Salad! Fresh, flavorful and your slow cooker does all the work for you! This is the perfect meal! Make a salad or sandwich or eat this with mashed potatoes! You can’t go wrong! #slowcooker #crockpot

The other thing I’ve been doing a lot this summer is using my slow cooker. Slow cooker in the summer? Yes! Maybe not on a day when it’s over 100 degrees, if you get hot weather like that. But hey, don’t forget about your slow cooker! It’s not just for the fall and winter!

I threw in some chicken breasts (you can certainly use boneless thigh meat as well), BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, some Italian dressing and some salt. .   5 ingredients! Can’t beat that! And you’ve got dinner!

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Salad! Fresh, flavorful and your slow cooker does all the work for you! This is the perfect meal! Make a salad or sandwich or eat this with mashed potatoes! You can’t go wrong! #slowcooker #crockpot

Make this salad or make a barbecue pulled chicken sandwich, or serve this over mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower! The possibilities are endless!

And a delicious dinner is guaranteed every time.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Salad
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Note: you want your chicken covered with the BBQ sauce mixture when cooking in the slow cooker so add more BBQ sauce if needed.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 3 to 4

Ingredients
For the BBQ chicken:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ to 1 cup BBQ sauce + more if needed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Italian dressing
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste
For the red cabbage slaw:
  • Half head of small red cabbage, sliced thin using a mandolin slicer or food processor
  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil + more if needed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
  • fresh mixed greens
  • red and yellow tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or Italian dressing

Instructions
For the chicken:
  1. Place chicken breasts in your slow cooker. Using a small bowl, mix together the BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook on high for about 4 hours. Remove the chicken from your slow cooker, and using two forks, shred the chicken breasts, and then place the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker for about 30 minutes to absorb the sauce.
For the red cabbage slaw:
  1. Using a large mixing bowl, toss the shredded red cabbage in the bowl. Drizzle on the olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss together until the cabbage is nicely coated in the oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.
For the salad:
  1. To plate: place a handful or two of fresh mixed greens onto your plate and top with some of the barbecue pulled chicken. Arrange tomato wedges around the plate and top with some of the red cabbage slaw. Drizzle on just a touch of EVOO or your favorite light Italian dressing and enjoy!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken recipe from 40 Aprons.

 

Blueberry Cherry Mojito

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Nashville to attend a Southern Baking Retreat hosted by White Lily Flour. I’ve never been to Nashville and heard what a great city it was and was so excited to go. The food, people and hospitality did not let me down. That southern hospitality definitely exists! With the ma’ams and yes ma’am and the terms of endearment like darlin’ and sugar and y’all instead of you guys. .  I knew I was in Nashville, Tennessee!

On the last day, I was heading down to the elevator to check out of the hotel and the elevator door opened and I got on. Immediately, this little, old man with white hair, dressed in shorts with a pastel colored oxford button up shirt tucked in with a belt and a sweater draped over his shoulders says to me, “Well, good God Almighty! Dang gummit!!! Where are YOU headed? What floor do you need?!!!” in the thickest southern accent ever . . and he’s huffing and puffing (he was really angry you guys) . . and I looked at him and said, “Excuse me, sir?” I couldn’t believe he had just said all that to me . . it was like a scene from a movie. Then, he says to me, “Well, I’m sorry ma’am . . I have been going up and down in this elevator and this hot coffee just spilled all over my hands.” He was carrying pastries and some coffees in his hands. We get down to the lobby level and he gets off (first) and immediately goes to the front desk to complain. Not really sure what you complain about because he obviously got on the wrong elevator and that was it. The elevators were working just fine.

As he was scooting off the elevators, I see his shorts kinda riding up in the middle because maybe the shorts are too small or his thighs too big. .  but it dawns on me that I had just met Beverly Leslie, the character from Will and Grace. That TV show with Eric McCormack and Debra Messing, from the late 90’s.

Does anyone remember this show? or this character?! The guy in the elevator was totally him. Southern drawl and all.

Well, I know this man was holding coffee . .  but he should have been reaching for a cocktail. He certainly needed some loosening up.

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

It’s August and we are soaking up every last bit of summer. I don’t know about you but I still have my refrigerator packed with berries and cherries. I borrowed a muddler from my friend, Rina, and mixed up one of my favorites with a twist!

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

A blueberry cherry mojito! Because it’s summer and we still have a few more weeks to play and relax!

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

You guys, this drink is so refreshing and tasty. Who needs to go to an expensive bar and pay $11 for a mojito when you can make one at home.

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

And I wanted a little more of a bright flavor, so I added some of my pure lemon extract from Nielsen Massey. They make more than just vanilla and almond extracts! I have some orange blossom water, pure orange extract and some rose water which I can’t wait to play around with!

Nielsen-Massey, a family owned and operated company, has been making the finest vanilla products and flavor extracts for over 100 years. With products ranging from their classic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to fruity and floral Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract and fragrant Orange Blossom Water, Nielsen-Massey makes the perfect flavorful addition to round out any summertime drink recipe!

So, go ahead. .  channel your inner mixologist and try your hand at mixing up some of your favorite drinks at home.

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

Here’s hoping you are also able to find some time to kick back a little and sip on something delicious this month. I hope you give this mojito a try!

Cheers!

Blueberry Cherry Mojito
 
I made my mojitos directly in each glass for more flavor but you can certainly use a cocktail shaker or pitcher.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 3

Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries + some for garnish if desired
  • ⅓ cup fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • 10 fresh mint leaves + more for garnish
  • 3 teaspoons sugar, split
  • 6 ounces white rum, split
  • juice from 1 lime
  • ¾ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract, split
  • 6 ounces club soda, split
  • Ice cubes
  • lime wedges for garnish

Instructions
  1. Divide blueberries and cherries evenly into 3 tall, sturdy glasses. Use a muddler to crush the blueberries and cherries. Add in a few mint leaves and 1 teaspoon of sugar into each glass. Use the muddler again to gently crush the mint leaves.
  2. Stir in 2 ounces of rum, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and about a ¼ teaspoon of the Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract evenly into each glass. Pour in the club soda and add some ice cubes. Stir, taste and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with extra blueberries, a lime wedge and some more mint if desired.

For more information on Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, please visit the Nielsen-Massey website or follow Nielsen-Massey on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

Channel your inner mixologist and try this refreshing and delicious Blueberry Cherry Mojito! Sweetened with fresh blueberries and cherries, this mojito is amazing! #spon

Disclosure: This is a paid, sponsored post in partnership with Nielsen-Massey. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting me in working with the brands and products that I use and love.

 

Back to School with PackIt Freezable Bags + A Giveaway!

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

You guys.  . you might not be ready for this, but it’s that time of the year.

Back to school.

Parents everywhere are celebrating. .  while the kids, not so much. I feel like August is such an interesting month because, I don’t about you, but we try to cram in every last thing before school starts. And at least we have the entire month of August to practice going to bed early again  ..  HA! We start school in early September. Who has already started school or starts school at the end of August? You know it’s that time of the year when you start to see all of the first day of school photos in your Facebook feed. Ah, how times have changed!

One thing my kids are excited about is back to school shopping. .  the clothes. Yes, these are my girls after all. The shoes, the skirts, the tops, the dresses. .  I would save so much money if I had boys. .  I think? Anyway, along with the clothes, it’s the school supplies. .  and you can’t forget about the lunch bags or backpacks!

My oldest is 8 now so those princess and Hello Kitty lunch containers don’t do it for her anymore. And my youngest just follows along, so even though she probably still wants to carry that Disney princess lunch bag, she won’t because she wants to be just like her big sister.

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

Enter these fabulous new, freezable lunch bags from PackIt! And yes, I said freezable. Now, why is that important? Well, for one, my kids love their drinks cold, like really cold and no matter what I do, the drinks never stay cold by the time they eat lunch and depending on what’s in the lunch bag, like Phoebe’s favorite pasta salad or carrot sticks or an apple, it has to be cold, like cool and not room temperature. I love the fact that the fruits and veggies that I pack can now stay cool.

Our Favorite Pasta Salad and Back to School with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool #giveaway

And if you need to carry a hot lunch, simply don’t put the bags in the freezer. They work great and keep everything insulated. We love that the handle has a clip so my daughter can clip it to her backpack after lunch. She says this is key! The bag also has a zipper close which I love!

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

PackIt is the smartest, simplest way to keep food and drinks cool anywhere. It works just like a refrigerator on the go, continually chilling your food and drinks for up to 10 hours! The secret is the cooler’s freezable gel liner. Simply store the folded PackIt bag in the freezer overnight. Once the bag is frozen, its walls generate waves of cold air that chill your food and drinks from all sides. No ice packs needed!

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

“PackIt’s patented built-in technology keeps items cool all day without ever needing ice packs. It’s so powerful that it can even drop the temperature of liquids 25 degrees within the first hour. That’s right—it actually makes room-temperature items cold! Best of all, it folds up for compact storage in your freezer and is ready to go when you are.” You can find PackIt freezable lunch bags at available at major retailers such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon, as well as at PackIt.com.

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

Back to school with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool

So, new school year. .  we are ready for you!!! My kids can’t wait to use their new freezable lunch bags! Wishing everyone a great school year! and don’t miss my daughter’s favorite pasta salad down below! Moms and dads, you might want to make this for yourself too!

Ready to BUY a PackIt freezable bag today? Use this Unique Promo Code: HIPFOODIEMOM15 and enjoy 15% off your order! This will expire on Tuesday, August 11th.

Our Favorite Pasta Salad and Back to School with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool #giveaway

Our Favorite Pasta Salad
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

*If peaches are not in season, you can use strawberries or apples for some texture and fun.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • ½ pound tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ zucchini, unpeeled and julienned
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 yellow tomato, chopped
  • ½ peach, chopped*
  • ⅓ cup black olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup green olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup salami, chopped or cubed
  • 1 to 2 cups fresh arugula
  • ⅓ cup Italian dressing + more if needed

Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions and cook to al dente. Drain, lightly rinse and allow to cool.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, pour in the pasta. Drizzle with the olive oil and gently mix together. Next, add in all of the ingredients from the zucchini to the arugula. Gently toss together. Drizzle on your favorite Italian salad dressing and mix again. Enjoy!
  3. If packing this for a lunch, pack the dressing separately and drizzle on right before eating.

 

Our Favorite Pasta Salad and Back to School with PackIt Freezable Bags!! You won't want to start the school year without one of these! Keep your fruits and veggies fresh and cool! #ad #PackItCool #giveaway

The Giveaway!!!

One lucky reader will win $100 to spend at PackIt.com! And this isn’t just for the kiddos! PackIt has great freezable bags for everyone! Need to pack food for a road trip or a trip to the beach and want to keep your food cold or cool? PackIt can do that!!

Enter the giveaway below and good luck! Giveaway open to residents within the United States only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: This is a paid, sponsored post in partnership with PackIt. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting me in working with the brands and products that I use and love.

 

Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad

Celebrate the last month of summer with this Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad! Easy to make and absolutely delicious! #eatseasonal #summer

Last week I was in Minneapolis with my kids and actually had to fly out to Arkansas for a quick trip for two days. I had a great time, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about my girls. I left them in Minneapolis to finish up their week at Korean Culture Camp and my sister and brother-in-law were watching them.

That night, I called them when I got back from dinner and Madeline says to me, “Mommy, I miss you so much I want to cry.” I tried to cheer her up by asking about her day at camp and she was playing with Peanut, my sister’s dog, which she loves. We hung up the phone and that night, I had a dream that something had happened at camp and all the kids had to be evacuated at the school and my kids were lost and couldn’t be found. Like something crazy happened and they couldn’t find my kids. My dream ended with my friend Face Timing me and showing me that she had found my girls and they were safe and sound. As soon as I saw them on the screen I started crying and I woke up immediately from my dream with tears in my eyes.

Maybe subconsciously I felt guilty for leaving them? I’m not sure why I had a dream like that but my sister told me they had a great time at camp, Madeline didn’t cry at all at drop off and was totally fine and that they didn’t miss me that much at all. Thanks?

Celebrate the last month of summer with this Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad! Easy to make and absolutely delicious! #eatseasonal #summer

As a mother, I question my decisions from time to time and although I am far from perfect, I do try to make good decisions. We have about four more weeks of summer and I have one more work trip to go on.

My husband, my great, loving and supportive husband, is taking a couple of days off to watch the girls so I can go to Nashville later this week. God bless him. We have our fair share of little fights and everything just like every married couple, but at the end of the day, I know he is the best husband and father the girls and I could ask for. So, thank you, Paul. I love you to the moon and back.

When I return from Nashville, I’m taking things easy. We have no more summer camps. We have no more ballet classes or other activities for the kids. We’re going to relax, go to the park and chill.

And eat lots of watermelon.

Celebrate the last month of summer with this Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad! Easy to make and absolutely delicious! #eatseasonal #summer

My kids are obsessed with watermelon. Watermelon slices (this is the photo that got me my $500 gift card to Anthropologie. Sorry, this is a sucky screen shot. I can’t find the original but it looks way better on Instagram. And over 24k likes?! wow!), watermelon balls and this watermelon salad.

There’s even watermelon cake so we have to make this too. Isn’t this the most gorgeous cake you’ve ever seen?

Celebrate the last month of summer with this Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad! Easy to make and absolutely delicious! #eatseasonal #summer
This salad is light and fresh and just screams summer. It’s totally inspired by Food & Wine magazine and Chef Jacques Pépin (who I am meeting in October!!! more on that later!) has the brilliant idea of adding pitted black kalamata olives. I absolutely love the sweet and salty here. The olives are so unexpected and absolutely delicious!

And I added zucchini and strawberries. Because summer.

Celebrate the last month of summer with this Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad! Easy to make and absolutely delicious! #eatseasonal #summer

Make this salad and let’s enjoy these last few weeks of summer!!!

Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad
 
Prep time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, Side and Main

Ingredients
  • ½ seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller OR cut into 1½-inch chunks, chilled
  • 1 to 2 cups strawberries, sliced thin
  • ¾ cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of kosher salt, optional
  • 1 small zucchini, unpeeled and sliced thin
  • fresh mint leaves
  • dill, for garnish (optional)

Instructions
  1. Using a large mixing bowl, add the watermelon balls or chunks, strawberries, olives, and feta. Drizzle on the olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice and toss together gently. Sprinkle on just a pinch of salt if desired.
  2. Arrange the zucchini slices on a platter and top with the watermelon and strawberry mixture. Garnish with the mint leaves and just a touch of dill for fun. Drizzle with a touch more olive oil and give another very light squeeze of lemon (if desired) and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Celebrate the last month of summer with this Zucchini Watermelon and Feta Salad! Easy to make and absolutely delicious! #eatseasonal #summer

 

 

Mediterranean Freekeh Salad + A Giveaway!

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

It’s been such a crazy week you guys.

Busy and fun, but crazy. My kids and I are in Minnesota and they are at Korean Culture Camp. It’s been so great and fun seeing them learn and interact and get excited about being Korean and learning more about their culture.

On Wednesday, I left for a quick day trip for work and am flying back to Minnesota today.  . I have airport gifts in hand to thank my sister and brother-in-law for watching the kids. .  Are airport gifts lame? Depends on what you get right?

When Paul used to travel a lot for work, he would always bring home a magnet from the city he was in. The girls loved it and our refrigerator was filled with them.

Don’t worry, I didn’t get my sister a magnet.

Traveling is fun but I can’t wait to get back home. Last week, before I left I made this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. I love food like this. Food that you can make, leave in the fridge, let the flavors marinate and it tastes even better the following day. I ate this for like 3 days in a row for lunch.

I am in love with this freekeh salad.

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

Have you guys heard of freekeh? Freekeh is “a flavorful, high-fiber whole grain food that cooks quickly and tastes delicious. Freekeh (also known as farik or frikeh) is the name for roasted young wheat, and it is a traditional food of the Middle East and Northeastern Africa. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 25 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table. This organic roasted green wheat has a subtle smoky flavor and pleasantly chewy texture, which makes it ideal for satisfying side dishes like savory salads and spiced pilafs. For a hearty hot cereal, try a bowl of cracked freekeh topped with milk, honey, nuts and fruit!”

Totally trying this for my next hot breakfast!

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

It’s absolutely delicious. I could’ve just eaten this plain, with just extra virgin olive oil and salt and a touch of red wine vinegar. It’s that good and I love the texture.

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

But I couldn’t just make a plain pot of freekeh could I?

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

This Mediterranean Freekeh Salad is an explosion of flavors in your mouth. Like, the most delicious explosion. You really don’t need a lot going on with the dressing. .  just extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, a fresh squeeze of lemon if you’d like and salt and pepper. You want the ingredients to shine and as you take each bite and taste the pepperoncinis, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, black kalamata olives and the delicious freekeh, you are in heaven.

And yes, we have a giveaway down below. .  because EVERYONE needs to try freekeh.

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

Mediterranean Freekeh Salad
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Side or Main
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup organic cracked freekeh
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup diced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini, unpeeled and diced fine
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tomato, chopped or diced
  • ¼ cup diced pepperoncini peppers
  • ⅓ cup whole greek kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese + more for garnish if desired
  • ½ lemon, optional

Instructions
  1. Using a heavy bottomed pot or medium sized sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add the Organic Cracked Freekeh, reduce the heat to low and partially cover with lid. Let simmer until the liquid has absorbed, for about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, lightly drizzle just a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle on some kosher salt. Mix and set aside.
  2. Using a small bowl, whisk together the ¼ cup olive oil, red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed and set aside.
  3. Using a large mixing bowl, mix together the sun dried tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, chopped tomato, diced pepperoncini, olives and parsley. Add the cooked freekeh, fresh arugula, dressing and crumbled feta cheese. Mix together again and right before serving, squeeze on just a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice if desired. Enjoy immediately.

 

Bright, fresh and flavorful, you've got to try this Mediterranean Freekeh Salad. Organic Cracked Freekeh cooks up in just 20 minutes for an easy, quick whole grain addition to your dinner table! #spon

 

The Giveaway!!

Giveaway only open to residents within the United States

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting me in working with the brands that I use and love.

 

 

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

Yes, I’m coming at you with two smoothie recipes in a row. Smoothies aren’t just meant for a glass and straw anymore. Make a parfait. Or, in this case, make a smoothie breakfast bowl.

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

It’s like bedazzled cereal . .  but with a smoothie instead of milk. A freaking delicious smoothie. So delicious you’ll drop the spoon when you’re almost finished and turn the bowl up into your mouth with your hands to get every last drop.

I made these one morning with my girls and customized the toppings for each kid, and myself.

I topped one bowl with shredded coconut, cherries and peanut butter morsels. For my youngest. .  who is obsessed with everything peanut butter and sweet.

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

For my oldest, I topped hers with one of her favorite cereals, Gorilla Munch Corn Puffs, chocolate chips and blueberries. Because, you know, the fruit balances it all.

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

And then, for myself, I of course had to throw on peaches, bananas and sliced almonds. Three things I am obsessed with and haven’t gone a day (in the summer) without eating.

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

So, make a smoothie breakfast bowl, top it with what you like. .  and enjoy! And make them fast because nothing beats in-season summer fruit in smoothie bowls.

Here’s to the last glorious month of summer!!

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls
 
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Smoothie bowls are totally customizable so top them with what you like! *Use dairy-free yogurt (or vegan chocolate) for a vegan smoothie breakfast bowl.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 3

Ingredients
For the smoothie:
  • 2 cups assorted frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)
  • ½ cup yogurt (any kind)*
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal or chia seeds
  • squirt of honey (optional)
For the smoothie bowl toppings:
  • shredded coconut
  • granola or other cereal
  • fresh berries
  • sliced peaches
  • chocolate or peanut butter morsels*
  • sliced banana
  • sliced almonds
  • cherries

Instructions
For the smoothie:
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour smoothie evenly into shallow bowls and top with assorted toppings. Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

Berry Smoothie Breakfast Bowls. Easy to make and loaded with fruit, texture and nutrients! Customize these bowls for each member of the family!! #breakfast #smoothies

 

 

Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits

Whip up these super EASY and delicious Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits! So easy to make and sooooo good! #ad

It’s summer and our fridge is packed with our favorite summer fruits. We’ve been living off of berries, peaches and cherries. It’s amazing how much two little kids can eat!

Whip up these super EASY and delicious Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits! So easy to make and sooooo good! #ad

We have one more glorious month of summer and we plan to enjoy it to the fullest. I was pretty busy in June and July but the plan is to kick back and relax for the remainder of the summer. I plan to get my fill of delicious, easy to whip up summer salads, fruits and catch up on my movies! We love RedBox! Anyone else?

The girls have been with me more in the kitchen. .  helping, mixing, asking to turn on large counter top appliances. Their latest obsession is helping me remove the pit from cherries. I finally got a cherry pitter, well two, and they’ve been having a blast with it.

Our blender has also taken up permanent real estate on my kitchen counter and we seem to have the thing whirling at least a few times a week and every Saturday.

Our latest addiction to add to our smoothies? This Almond Breeze Almondmilk in Chocolate!

Whip up these super EASY and delicious Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits! So easy to make and sooooo good! #ad

You guys. .  you know how much I love almond milk right? Well, this makes the kid in me so happy. I get to enjoy chocolate milk all over again. I have to hide this in the back of the fridge because my kids like it too.

A little too much.

Whip up these super EASY and delicious Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits! So easy to make and sooooo good! #ad

We whipped up this chocolate almond smoothie and threw together some parfaits! This way, we get our smoothie, granola and our summer fruits! We love these!

Whip up these super EASY and delicious Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits! So easy to make and sooooo good! #ad

Summer treats don’t get any easier than this! Make this for breakfast or have it as a snack! Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast or Snack
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Chocolate
  • ½ cup yogurt, any kind
  • 2 bananas, chopped
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ¾ cup assorted berries
  • Optional for parfait: granola and more mixed berries and cherries

Instructions
  1. Place the Almond Breeze Chocolate Almondmilk, yogurt, chopped bananas, almond butter and berries into a blender and mix until smooth. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.
  2. Pour into glasses or wide mouth mason jars and top with granola and an assortment of mixed berries and cherries. Enjoy!

Whip up these super EASY and delicious Chocolate Almond Smoothie Parfaits! So easy to make and sooooo good! #ad

Disclosure: This “Easy as Breeze” post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. For more “Easy As Breeze” recipes made with five ingredients or less, visit Almond Breeze on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps

Everything you love about cobb salads in a lettuce wrap! These Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps are so easy to make and delicious! Serve these as an appetizer or a meal! #whole30 #paleo

As I was driving back home from dropping off Madeline at summer camp, I was looking out the window. I drove past a farmer on his tractor, and then by a farm, and then by a dairy farm with some cows and then drove by some corn fields and then, some open green pastures. I’m not joking at all. This is all literally on my drive home.

And then, I felt it. I felt happy. Relaxed.

I live in Wisconsin now. It still boggles my mind that I live here. With my family. That Paul and I are raising our children here. In Wisconsin. In the midwest. I never, in a million years, thought we’d end up here. And honestly, until recently, I’ve been secretly wishing and hoping that we would move back to CA or to Texas.

But, we are happy. Paul is happy. The girls are happy. We are good.

Everything you love about cobb salads in a lettuce wrap! These Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps are so easy to make and delicious! Serve these as an appetizer or a meal! #whole30 #paleo

Sometimes, as I am scrolling through my Facebook feed and see photos from my friends who only have boys, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had boys instead of girls. .  don’t ask me why but I have these thoughts .. would there be less drama? would there be less fighting? probably not. . and then I look over at Madeline brushing her American Girl Doll’s hair (yes, we caved). Like, brushing it and brushing it and changing her clothes. She can sit with that doll for at least 30 minutes, which is like an hour for an adult. And Phoebe, trying on clothes and getting ready for her fashion show, where I am supposed to play fashion show music and watch them walk down the runway. Or I watch her fix her hair in the morning (she fixes her own hair now and lets me do it sometimes). And then I think, all is as it should be.

Everything you love about cobb salads in a lettuce wrap! These Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps are so easy to make and delicious! Serve these as an appetizer or a meal! #whole30 #paleo

We’re at the end of July now and I’m taking the girls to Minnesota on Sunday for a week to attend a Korean Culture Camp. We don’t have any camps like this where we live, so we’re going to the one my sister takes her kids to every summer. I’m volunteering for a few days and am excited to see what they learn. See, because even though Paul and I are Korean, we don’t speak Korean well . . my sister would correct me here and say we don’t speak Korean at all.

My Korean is probably at a 1st grade level. Not good. Anyway, they don’t have to learn how to speak the language but I just want them to learn more about who they are. .  hoping for a fun and educational week!

Since we’re heading out this weekend, I’ve been cleaning out the fridge . .  and these Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps were born!! I’ve made these three times over the past two weeks. So easy to make and delicious!

And these are Whole30 and Paleo approved if you’re into that!

Everything you love about cobb salads in a lettuce wrap! These Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps are so easy to make and delicious! Serve these as an appetizer or a meal! #whole30 #paleo

Happy weekend, everyone!

Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps
 
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You can use all natural rotisserie chicken here, or roasted chicken breast. The chimichurri sauce recipe yields about 2 cups of sauce.* You can refrigerate any leftover sauce and leave at room temp for about an hour to use again.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer or Main

Ingredients
For the chimichurri sauce*:
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed with the stems cut off
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • ¾ cup good quality olive oil + more if needed
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the lettuce wraps:
  • Boston Bibb lettuce or Butter lettuce, washed and separated
  • red and yellow tomatoes, chopped
  • roasted chicken breast, chopped or cubed
  • hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • crispy bacon, crumbled or chopped

Instructions
For the chimichurri sauce:
  1. Combine ingredients from the parsley to the oregano in a food processor. Pulse and process until desired consistency is reached; usually several pulses. Place in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix and combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the parsley mixture and mix together well. Taste and adjust any seasonings as needed.
For the lettuce wraps:
  1. To assemble: Top lettuce leaves with chopped tomatoes, chicken, eggs and bacon. Drizzle on the chimichurri sauce and serve immediately.

 

Everything you love about cobb salads in a lettuce wrap! These Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps are so easy to make and delicious! Serve these as an appetizer or a meal! #whole30 #paleo

Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad + A Giveaway!

Light, easy to prepare and filled with the flavors of Morocco! You've got to try this Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad.

Two chickpea recipes in a row? Well, I have a lot of catching up to do! It’s like when something you love is suddenly taken away from you. .  and then you get it back. .  and you go a little crazy because you missed it so much.

So yeah, I’ve been eating a lot of chickpeas lately.

And this salad, you guys.

Light, easy to prepare and filled with the flavors of Morocco! You've got to try this Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad.

This salad comes from this lovely, beautiful cookbook, The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook.

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is much more than a regional cookbook packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers.

Some of you might remember me sharing a similar cookbook a couple years ago, The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook. The author, Tracey Medeiros, partnered with chefs, families, farmers and more to put together The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook. It’s packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers. “It’s a window into the world of Connecticut’s farm-to-table movement, brought to life through vivid farmer and chef profiles, local lore, and stunning photographs.

Authors Tracey Medeiros and Christy Colasurdo take you on a culinary journey from the shores of tony Greenwich, to the rolling hills of Litchfield, to the backcountry roads and quaint pastoral hamlets tucked away in the state’s Quiet Corner.”

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is much more than a regional cookbook packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers.

I love that this book is dedicated to Connecticut farmers, fishermen, cheese makers, bee keepers, foragers and food producers. These are the people who take great pains and pride in bringing the people of Connecticut fresh, wholesome and local foods. Each page introduces you to a farm, their life, what they do, how they got started and then shares a delicious recipe.

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is much more than a regional cookbook packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers.

But it’s the people that make this book special. Getting a glimpse into their lives and seeing what they do. We need a Wisconsin Farm Table Cookbook!!!

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is much more than a regional cookbook packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers.

From Breakfast to Soups and Salads to Sandwiches, Flatbread, Savory Pies and Crostini (this chapter is amazing!), to Poultry, Fish and Seafood, Meat, Drinks and, of course, Desserts, this cookbook literally has it all.

These recipes immediately jumped out at me: Curried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Honey (page 83), Macaroni and Cheese with Braised Pork Belly (page 155), Macerated Summer Fruit Tart with a coconut oil pie crust (page 290) and the MarWin Farm’s Duck with Corn Bread Stuffing and Strawberry Sauce (pictured below, pages 178- 179).

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is much more than a regional cookbook packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers.

I was immediately drawn to the Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad (page 46) from the White Gate Farm. White Gate Farm has an on-site farm stand where they sell home-grown organic produce, roasting chickens, eggs and turkeys, as well as salads, pizza, preserves and pastries. If I am ever in East Lyme, I’m going there!

Light, easy to prepare and filled with the flavors of Morocco! You've got to try this Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad.

Because it’s summer and I’m in my eat-all-the-salads phase, I made my own version of this salad and didn’t cook anything. In the original recipe, the carrots are cooked until crisp-tender and the dressing is heated as well, on the stove.

I also added thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions. This salad pairs well with grilled meats and fish so it’s perfect for summer!!

Light, easy to prepare and filled with the flavors of Morocco! You've got to try this Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad.

I hope you give this delicious salad a try!!! and enter to win the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook down below.

Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad
 
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Prep time includes one hour of marinating time.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer or Side
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients
For the spice mixture:
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
For the salad:
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin using a mandoline slicer (about 4 cups)
  • 3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cucumbers, unpeeled and sliced thin using a mandoline slicer and cut in half
  • 1 to 2 red onions, peeled and sliced thin
For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • drizzle of honey (optional)
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
  1. For the spice mixture: Using a small bowl, combine the spice mixture ingredients and set aside.
  2. For the salad: Using a large mixing bowl, mix together the carrots, chickpeas, cucumbers and red onions.
  3. For the dressing: whisk together the olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and a drizzle of honey. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.
  4. To make the salad: Sprinkle on the spice mixture over the carrots, cucumbers and red onions. Drizzle on the dressing and add in the cilantro and parsley. Mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you can, cover and refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least an hour or 2 before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook, page 46.

Light, easy to prepare and filled with the flavors of Morocco! You've got to try this Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad.

 

The Giveaway!!

Giveaway open to residents within the United States only. This giveaway will run for one week and ends on Wednesday, July 29th. 

To enter the giveaway: simply leave a comment down below and let me know why this cookbook interests you!

Good luck! One lucky reader will win!

 

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I believe in and support farms and the farm to table movement and wanted to review this cookbook and offer this giveaway to my readers. All opinions expressed here are my own.