Summer no-cook dinner ideas Continue reading
Author Archives: Emily
Loaded Savory Waffle
These waffles have everything: sausage, eggs, cheese, hash browns, and everything bagel seasoning- all wafflized! They’re fluffy and filling with a nice crunch. I wake up first wanting coffee, then ready for a savory breakfast. I don’t usually want pastries … Continue reading
Peach Tea Cocktail
This one is summer in a glass – refreshing tea, sweet peach, and a little spike. Also, when I say peach- I always am using nectarines but if fuzz is OK with you, go for it!
I usually only drink tea hot and exclusively in the fall and winter but this summer while I was home I embraced (iced) tea time, in the afternoons to have something fun to look forward to. I was surprised to love mint tea iced and blackberry/elderberry tea was a great treat too.
Peach Tea Cocktails
Ingredients: (for 2 cocktails + leftover iced tea)
2 peach tea bags (mine was peach mango)
3 cups water
1/2 peach, sliced
1-2 oz peach schnapps/cointreau/lemon vodka/raspberry vodka
1 teaspoon simple syrup or 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups ice
Brew the tea and let cool. It should be very strong for iced tea as it will get watered down.
Add ice to a cocktail shaker with the tea, peach, alcohol, and sugar/simple syrup (if using).
Shake well and serve over ice.
This was so so good. The tea makes it really light and refreshing and gives you the chance to make it as sweet or not as you’d like with simple syrup or sugar. You could amp up the peach flavor by tossing some peach and the pit into the pot when making the simple syrup (and removing when it cooled). Herbal tea isn’t caffeinated so this is ideal for something fun to sip on a hot night. Cheers!
July 2022 Recap
June was confusing but July was exciting! I got and started my new job! I was grateful to be so so so far in the process when my role was eliminated. I was in weird limbo and unsure what would be next so I was glad to move right into this one! I’m glad to work through this and be in a routine before school starts.
This month I made the most summery dessert snack: s’mores cheeseball! The kids didn’t care that much about this one either way but maybe that’s because they’d be happy to roast a marshmallow in any weather.
Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail was such a highlight. Cocktails (or mocktails) are such a fun way to liven up any regular day. I tested these babies and tweaked it before blogging them to have lots of strawberry!
Turmeric Couscous Salad was nice to give a side dish some love. I tend to go more basic on the sides but a little splash of orange juice was a great dressing for this one and it is great the next day too. The little girl and I ate leftovers by the pool!
August blog posts will be some more summery things – a burger, some prime-time produce (peaches- I’m looking at you!), another cocktail, and maybe some no-cook dinner ideas in case it is just so hot. We’ll celebrate a 4th birthday and have time at the beach.
The Little Girl:
She’s very very into swimming now and it is so fun to see. She keeps discovering things that she can do now that she’s “big”. She told her teachers she didn’t have goggles “when she was a little girl” and now she has some. Like always, she could eat her weight in cheese.
The Big Guy:
He’s loved camps this summer. We found much better ones this year and he loves swimming and archery at one and was into the classes the teachers have at another camp held at school. His motion sickness has been off the charts, and being physically tired and hot doesn’t help.
Year of nail polish! I got this aqua one in the very end of June but didn’t use it until July but I didn’t love it.
More international food inspiration: nope.
More soups/salads: we had caesar a few times, does that count?
More apps: nope.
More fun drinks: Yes! Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail with Basil, and I had (iced) tea time most days while I was home.
Updating photos: not this month
What I’m reading: Sure did! I read Counterfeit which was very fun and fast paced. Bookclub read The Underground Railroad and I loved it – so creative. I read a YA book, The Henna Wars, that I didn’t love, but maybe the YAs would?
What I’m watching: Great Food Truck Race
What I’m listening to: I blew through Land of the Giants and have listened to most seasons – the food delivery season was the best.
Heat like this calls for no-cook treats- plus all the AC/pool trips/popsicles you can find. This cheeseball dip is all the flavors of s’mores that you love, without sitting by a hot fire while it is 90-something degrees around here.
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 graham crackers crushed into crumbs + ~8-10 graham crackers broken into quarters
1 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallow bits
When cream cheese is softened, add in confectioners sugar, vanilla, most of the graham cracker crumbs, and 1/3 of the mini chocolate chips.
Mix well together with a spatula or hand mixer. Spoon onto plastic wrap and wrap it up to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, cover the outside in the remaining graham cracker crumbles, remaining mini chips, and the marshmallows.
Use a spoon to pack the “crust” around the cheeseball.
Serve with graham crackers to dip. Enjoy!
This was fun – and addicting. The dip is soft and creamy with a tang of the cream cheese but with the sweet and crunch. Mix it up and bring out a cool dessert that appeals to all ages.
These mini freeze-dried marshmallows are perfect here, BUT, skip the marshmallows and swap the cream cheese with ricotta and poof! You’ve got cannoli dip! We used the mini marshmallows in hot chocolate bombs and in some trail mix and in Hot Chocolate Muddy Buddies.
Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail
Cheers! Starting with lemonade, these cocktails get some muddled strawberries and basil and a splash of lemon vodka. They’re sweet and fresh. Make one or these would be great as a pitcher batch to spike as desired.
I love love love the herbs in a cocktail. I’ve been adding our boatloads of mint to my water and to iced tea so the basil flavor was a welcome change.
Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktails:
Ingredients (for 2):
~6 strawberries, halved or quartered
1 teaspoon of sugar (or simple syrup)
3-4 basil leaves
2 cups lemonade
1-2 oz lemon vodka
Split the strawberries into 2 glasses and add a sprinkle of sugar (or simple syrup) and muddle a few times to crush them. Use a cocktail muddle or the handle of a spoon.
Then add in the basil and gently muddle once or twice.
Pour in the lemonade and the vodka and stir well. Top off with ice and another strawberry or basil leaf to garnish. Add in ice and stir again.
I loved this. I made it first and was too aggressive muddling the basil (thus, why they’re best done separately) and I wanted more strawberry. We had just gone strawberry picking so these were the best of the best BUT muddling would really bring even grocery store ones to life!
Turmeric Couscous Salad
This couscous has chewy cranberries, fresh mint, and a citrus dressing. Side dishes are tricky to have energy for or coordination for, but this has just a few ingredients and is great made ahead of time – who doesn’t need a dinner head start?!
Turmeric Couscous Salad
Ingredients (for 4):
1 cup Israeli couscous
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup orange juice (mine was orange tangerine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
Cook the couscous and allow it to cool.
Mix in the juice, olive oil, cranberries, turmeric, and fresh mint. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
Chill until serving.
Add another splash of juice before serving, if needed.
We have so so much mint so I could have added even more. The orange juice dressing and the fresh mint are really the dominant flavors here.
This was nice for variety since the kids will eat any form of pasta anytime but the turmeric added a pop of color we don’t see all the time. One kid ate tons, one ate some without strong feelings either way but overall I’d say it’s a winner and something I’d make again. The sweetness goes well with sausages or grilled chicken or falafel, or would definitely be of interest at your next BBQ!
June 2022 Recap
June is a blur, let’s focus on the food.
The Birthday Burger was such a winner. The bacon jam + homemade parmesan peppercorn dressing was a great combo. The jam is sweet and smokey and the parm peppercorn dressing is salty and creamy. Perfection I tell you.
Pickle de gallo wasn’t my idea, but it isn’t ever in my stores so I made my own and loved it with dill pickles with sweet pickles! Serve it with potato chips or tortilla chips or crackers, or on a taco! Your next BBQ definitely needs this dip.
Peanut Sesame Noodles were a re-do for one of our beloved dinners. It is so fast and adds great variety to pasta night! We eat them warm or cold and they are handy to have around for a quick meal.
Salmon Cakes over Lemon Risotto was my use for frozen not-the-best-salmon. These would work well for any fish, crab, or shrimp too.
The Little Girl:
She’s coloring obsessed once again and happy for all the outside time. She can down a whole popsicle now and loved some couscous I made. July will mean the start of a dance class and we’re all excited for her to try it! She is into a toddler bed and truly mastered night time potty training.
The Big Guy:
He’s done with 1st grade! The end of the year was a whirlwind. We had a last-day of school party that was so so fun. ~17 kids and ~13 parents came over for pizza, popsicles, and a bounce house. I cannot get over how much they learn in first grade. He loved reading, PE, recess, and library. Writing was his least fav. He’s enjoying some free time before summer day camps start in July. Food obsessions for him include hard boiled eggs, applesauce, ritz bits, and bubble gum.
I have no idea what July has in store for me. I have a couscous salad to share and then, who knows. Maybe a cocktail? Maybe tons of posts, maybe fewer. Stay tuned.
Year of nail polish! I got one in the very end of June but didn’t use it yet- maybe it’ll be the July one!
More international food inspiration: I don’t think do.
More soups/salads: we had salad bar – does that count?
More apps: Yes! Pickle de Gallo and some phyllo cups with brie on an apps for dinner night.
More fun drinks: nope
Updating photos: Yes! Peanut Sesame Noodles got some updated pics!
What I’m reading: Lots! I read & loved Black Cake – one of the best books of the year. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel was a fun summery read that isn’t a beach romance. I read Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women who Revolutionized Food in America which was pretty good, maybe better as audio? I read Beautiful World Where Are You and didn’t get the hype like others but it has such a following that others definitely love it.
What I’m watching: Battle on the Beach for ocean rentals has been good
What I’m listening to: I shake my fist at the patriarchy with Be There in Five podcast.
Birthday Burger – Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn
Happy Birthday Mr J! The birthday burger was belated and became doubled up with Father’s Day – our guy is such a trooper. We were all about the toppings this year – bacon jam and parmesan peppercorn dressing! These beauties had lots of melty cheese and brioche rolls.
Bacon jam is delicious and definitely worth it. In a pinch, 3 parts crumbled bacon finely chopped + 1 part apple cider vinegar + 1 part maple syrup is a great quick fix.
Burgers with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
Ingredients: (for 4 burgers)
1 pound ground meat
4 tablespoons bacon jam (that’s ~1/3 of what the batch above makes)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream
1-2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of garlic powder
4-6 slices of cheese
4 brioche buns
Make the bacon jam ahead of time.
Form the burger patties and preheat the grill.
For the dressing, mix together the mayo, sour cream, some of the milk (adding more if needed later), parmesan cheese, pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Add remaining milk if you find it too thick (think: spreadable not quite like dressing).
Cook the burgers to your preference – we did some ground beef, some ground pork.
Top with lots of cheese and let that melt.
Assemble the burgers with a smear of parmesan peppercorn dressing on each bun half, arugula, the burger and top with bacon jam.
I loved this combo. The bacon jam is complex – sweet and a tiny tang and the coffee and red wine adds some serious depth. The parm peppercorn dressing is so much better than the jar. I liked making a small amount – and will do so again another time – it would be delightful on a turkey sandwich!
The Historical Timeline of the Birthday Burgers:
2021 it was a Waffle Breakfast Burger with ground sausage in the patty, maple aoli, and melted gouda.
2020 it was a BLT burger with ground bacon IN the burger and tomato jam
2019 it was a Manchego Burger with manchego, quince jam, and arugula
2018 it was a Garlic Lovers Burger with garlic butter, chips, garlic aoli and white cheddar.
2017 it was an Ultimate Mexican Burger with queso, guac, and beans.
2016 it was a Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger topped with bacon, onions, and tomato.
2015 it was a Picnic Burger with slaw & potato sticks
2014 it was a German Burger with horseradish, caramelized onions, pickles and a pretzel roll
2013 it was a Vermont Burger with maple mayo, cheddar, bacon, and spinach
2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger – enough said
2011 it was a Stuffed Burger stuffed with bacon & cheddar or bacon & blue cheese
Pickle de Gallo
Pickle lovers unite! This idea is by Grillo’s Pickles, but I never see it sold in my stores so I made my own. Eat it like a dip, put it on a burger/dog and you’ll love it on a taco.
Pickle de Gallo
Ingredients: (as dip for ~4)
~3/4 cup dill pickles (~4-5 spears)
~3/4 cup sweet pickles (mine were bread & butter chips)
1/2 cup tomatoes
1/4 white onion
2 cups baby arugula (or a bunch of cilantro or parsley)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup pickle juice (some dill & some sweet)
Chop the pickles, tomatoes, onion, and greens/herbs.
Add it all to a bowl and stir in the oil and pickle juices. Stir well and refrigerate at least an hour.
Serve as dip or as a topping. Enjoy!
We put this on pulled pork tacos the first time and ate the rest with tortilla chips. I became obsessed and made it again serving it with crackers and another time with potato chips. It is so addicting. I love having bringing an offering that is vegetarian/dairy-free/gluten free (depending on your dipper) and fresh!
The mix of pickles is the key – it would be so strong with only dill pickles so definitely try it with both. I used greens for freshness (and once because cilantro is polarizing and I wasn’t sure if the group is into that). We all need more veggies, right?
It is flavorful and crunchy – make some and tell all the pickle puns. 😉