Refreshing Lime and Mint Fruit Salad

DSC_0162Some friends invited us to a cookout yesterday which was the perfect opportunity to bring one of my favorite fruit salads, a bright combination of berries, watermelon, lime juice and fresh mint.  I like this one because it is pretty easy to put together, the only hands-on time required is to cut the strawberries and watermelonl.  The combination of mint and lime is so refreshing in the heat, reminiscent of one of my favorites summer cocktails: the mojito. In fact, adding some rum to the lime juice before pouring over the salad would be great if you’re having a grown-up BBQ this July 4.  This recipe is number twenty-seven in my countdown of thirty recipes to make for your Fourth of July cookout. Only three more to go and you can find all the previous ones here.

What to buy (serves a crowd):

  • 4 cups watermelon, chopped into bite-size pieces (1 small to medium size seedless watermelon)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 6 ounces raspberries  (1 small clamshell)
  • 6 ounces blueberries (1 small clamshell)
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped if the leaves are large (my plant is producing really small leaves so I left as is)
  • juice from 1-2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

What to do:

  • add watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and mint to a large bowl
  • stir together lime juice and sugar in a small bowl then pour over fruit
  • lightly toss and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve

Coconut Banana Milkshake

Happy Friday and I hope you’ve got some good weekend plans ahead!  I’ve got a simple recipe today that you’ll want to make again and again.  I made this Tuesday night when I was craving a milkshake but wanted something a touch healthier than the Oreo variety from Cookout  (which is dangerously less than a mile away from our house.) The combo of coconut milk, bananas and vanilla ice-cream was delicious and the consistency was perfect thanks to the frozen bananas.  It would be great with some rum for a frosty dessert on the Fourth of July, even better with a slice of Smores Brownie Pie.


What to buy (serves 1):

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do:

  • blend coconut milk, ice cream, bananas and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth

DSC_0135This is number twenty-six in my countdown of thirty recipes to make for your Fourth of July cookout. You can find them all here.

Purple NC BBQ Style Coleslaw

When I went to the grocery to get my ingredients to make a BBQ slaw, they only had purple cabbages I decided to give it a try.  It was good but I think I’d recommend using 1/2 a head of green cabbage and 1/2 a head of purple if you can find it.  This recipe follows the traditional North Carolina coleslaw recipe that uses cider vinegar, and ketchup as a flavorful base.   It goes great with pork, chicken or a burger.  This is number twenty-five in my countdown of cookout friendly recipes for the Fourth of JulyDSC_0149

What to buy (serves 8-10):

  • 1 head purple cabbage, chopped (check out this website for an easy way to shred cabbage)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

What to do:

  • mix sugar with cider vinegar until dissolved
  • add other ingredients except the cabbage and mix well
  • toss with cabbage until well mixed and serve immediately or allow to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors develop

Super Easy Red, White and Blue Cookies

If you’re looking for a sugary, low-brow dessert that is slathered in frosting and appropriately the red, white and blue for this Fourth of July, I’ve got just the thing for you: Red, White and Blue White Chocolate Chip Cookies!  I made these the morning before a staff meeting at work and they took less than an hour from the mixing to the baking to the frosting.  These are number twenty-four in my countdown of cookout friendly recipes for the Fourth of July.  You can find them all here!

What to buy (makes about 18-25 cookies:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 container vanilla frosting with red, white and blue sprinkles

What to do

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or spray
  • stir melted butter into cake mix
  • add the beaten egg and extract, fold in chocolate chips
  • roll cookie dough into small balls and flatten slightly on the baking sheet
  • bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool before frosting generously



Smores Brownie Pie

Smores Brownie Pie, recipe number twenty-three in my countdown of thirty cookout recipes, screams summer and the Fourth of July.  It’s made up of a graham cracker crust, a brownie layer topped with Hershey’s chocolate bars and finally a marshmallow layer.

What to buy:

for the crust:

  • 12 graham crackers or approximately 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar

for the brownie layer:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars
  • 20-25 marshmallows

What to do:

to make the crust:

  • using a food processor or blender, pulverize graham crackers into fine crumbs
  • pour crumbs into a medium bowl and mix with melted butter and sugar
  • press into an ungreased 9 inch pie dish

to make the brownie layer:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • mix oil and sugar until well blended
  • add eggs and vanilla; stir until blended
  • mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  • stir dry ingredients into the oil mixture
  • pour into graham cracker crust
  • top with hershey bar pieces
  • bake for 20 minutes or until the middle is beginning to set
  • remove from the oven and top with marshmallows
  • return to the oven and continue to bake for an additional 3 minutes to melt the marshmallows
  • remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.
  • serve at room temperature or reheated slightly if you like for 20-30 seconds in the microwave





Pasta Salad with Peas and Broccoli Pesto

This pasta salad side dish with fresh herb pesto is a great alternative to a creamy pasta salad.  It is a lovely green color,  studded with green peas and nutritionally packs a bunch with a full head of broccoli.DSC_0106This recipe is number twenty-two in my countdown of thirty recipes perfect to make for your cookout this July 4th. You can find all of the previous recipes here.

What to buy (serves 5-6):

for the pesto:

  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

for the salad:

  • 8 ounces farfalle, or more depending on how many people you’re serving, cooked according to package directions
  • 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) frozen green peas, thawed

What to do:

  • to make the pesto, combine the broccoli, herbs, garlic, cheese, nuts, lemon juice and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until well mixed
  • slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream or in small batches
  • season to taste with salt and pepper
  • combine the cooked pasta and thawed peas, add pesto
  • season to taste with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if needed


Plum and Peach Crumble Sundae

The peaches and plums at my grocery store looked (and smelled) so good they were begging to be put to use in a summery dessert so I made this deconstructed crumble turned sundae.  It was so good with the simple perfection that is vanilla ice-cream but it would be great with whipped cream too.  I didn’t peel my fruit because I like the taste and texture but feel free to peel your peaches and plums if that’s what you prefer.  I served this up in pretty individual glasses but you could assemble it in a big bowl or buffet style and let everyone serve themselves.  DSC_0119

I adapted this from a recipe at Real Simple and mine is number twenty-one in my countdown of thirty recipes perfect to make for your cookout this July 4th. You can find the previous twenty recipes here.

What to buy (serves 4):

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 peach, pitted and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 plums, pitted and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream

What to do:

  • heat oven to 350 degrees
  • mix together the flour, oats, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl
  • transfer to a lined baking sheet and using your hands, form the mixture into large clumps
  • bake the crumble until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes
  • meanwhile, combine peaches, plums, lemon juice, a pinch of salt  and 1 tablespoon sugar in a medium bowl
  • divide the ice cream, fruit and juices and crumble among 4 glasses or bowls and serve immediately





Spicy Buffalo Potato Salad and Mustard Vinaigrette Potato Salad

Today’s recipes are numbers nineteen and twenty in my countdown of thirty recipes perfect to make for your cookout this July 4th. You can find all of the recipes here.

I’m not a fan of traditional Southern potato salad where mayonnaise or Miracle Whip are one of the main ingredients so these potato salads are good substitutes if you feel the same way.  The first one has a spicy kick with a buffalo flavor.  (I’ll eat anything with a buffalo flavor…like Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese, Spicy Buffalo Chicken Soup, Buffalo Blue Cheese Dip, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Buffalo Chicken Burgers.) 

If you’d like more spice you could add jalapeños or chipotle peppers.

Spicy Buffalo Potato Salad:

What to buy (serves 3-4):

  • 1 pound Klondike small gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

What to do:

  • cover potatoes with water in a medium sized stockpot
  • add about 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil
  • boil for 10 minutes or until soft, remove from heat and drain
  • cut potatoes into bite-size pieces
  • whisk together butter hot sauce, salt, pepper, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic and chili powder
  • add potatoes and cilantro to butter mixture, tossing until evenly combined
  • serve chilled or at room temperature

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The second potato salad is based around a simple dijon mustard vinaigrette.  It is simple and delicious especially with fresh herbs and would be great with crumbled bacon.

Mustard Vinaigrette Potato Salad:

What to buy (serves 3-4):

  • 1 pound small Klondike gourmet purple potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

What to do:

  • cover potatoes with water in a medium sized stockpot
  • add about 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil
  • boil for 10 minutes or until soft, remove from heat and drain
  • cut potatoes into bite-size pieces
  • whisk together the mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and honey
  • gradually whisk in the oil until a thick vinaigrette forms
  • combine potatoes and vinaigrette, tossing until well mixed
  • fold in herbs immediately before serving chilled or at room temperature



Red, White and Blue Whipped Cream Parfaits

This is a simple dessert that is so summery, pretty and perfectly colored for the Fourth of July.  It requires five ingredients: blueberries, sliced strawberries, sugar, vanilla extract and whipped cream and three steps as follow: whip your whipping cream (I add a sprinkling of sugar and vanilla extract), sprinkle your berries with a spoonful of sugar, and layer everything together in a pretty glass bowl.  Done and delicious!   This one is number eighteen in my countdown of thirty recipes perfect to make this July 4th. You can find all of the recipes here.Picture 002

Spicy Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Guacamole

If you’ve never added a mango to your guacamole you’ve got to try it! It is sweet without being too sweet and pairs well with the creamy avocado and spicy chipotle pepper.  And look how gorgeous it is:

Picture 027Mango guacamole was the perfect topping for these spicy Mahi Mahi tacos.  I’ve been making an effort lately to eat more fish (four people emailed me various articles about the FDA’s report re: seafood and preggos.) Fish tacos are super easy to prepare, everyone can build their own and I think they’re one of the most delicious ways to enjoy seafood.   These won’t weigh you down; instead of breading the Mahi and deep frying them in oil, I coated them with spices and sautéed them in a little olive oil.

Picture 060These recipes are numbers sixteen and seventeen in my countdown of thirty recipes to feed your family and friends this July 4th. You can find all of the recipeshere.

What to buy (serves 2-3):

for the tacos:

  •  3 Mahi Mahi fillets
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • flour tortillas (or corn if you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack)
  • 1 lime, sliced

for the guacamole:

  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chilies, use more depending on how much spice you like)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

  • combine paprika, chipotle chile powder, garlic salt, oregano and pepper
  • rub spice mixture onto both sides of  Mahi Mahi fillets
  • in another bowl mix all ingredients for mango guacamole (I prefer my avocado to be chunky rather than smooth so mix accordingly to your preference)
  • heat a skillet to medium-high and sauté fish in olive oil for 10-15 minutes, flipping once, until fillets are cooked through and are flakey when poked with a fork
  • remove from heat and flake fillets with a fork or chop into chunks
  • heat your tortillas in the already hot oven or in the microwave/toaster
  • layer fish in the middle of your tortilla, top with cheese and mango guacamole
  • serve hot with lime slices

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