RECIPES: 14 Summer Salads Round Up

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Summer is perfect for salad in any way possible. It's light and cool, and allows you to use up your garden's harvest or a Farmer's Market shopping spree. Over the years, I have acquired quite a few go-to salads. I picked my favorites I have featured on the blog over the years in this post. I have everything from a simple fruit salad to using grains and pastas to simple green salads. You name it, you'll find a rendition of it here.

Our family does a "soup and salad night" every Monday. It forces us to eat light and healthy, and allows us to use up any left over grilled meat or vegetables from the weekend. As much as I hate it some Mondays-I am truly glad we are disciplined in doing this. I think it teaches our daughter good eating habits and makes us thrifty with left overs. So good things all around!

Summer is short-and so are fresh vegetables! Enjoy them while you can, and hopefully this post gives you some ideas how.

RECIPE: Over-The-Top No Bake Reese's Peanut Butter Bars

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Peanut butter, Butterfingers and chocolate, mushed together?
Just mix it, press it and cut it?
An amazing dessert ready in under an hour?

You're welcome. 
Nothing like a no bake delicious treat for hot summer days!

Over-The-Top, No Bake Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie Bars 

2 cups of Reese's chocolate peanut butter cereal
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup peanut butter chips 
1/4 cup chocolate chips 
7 oz. of sweetened condensed milk 
6 mini Butterfinger candy bars, chopped up to make roughly 3/4 of a cup of chopped chocolate peanut butter candy (you can use Reese's peanut butter cups as a substitution if you wish)

1 square of chocolate almond bark and 1 tsp. Canola oil


Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Add cereal to a food processor and process until crumbs are formed. Set aside.

In a large bowl melt the peanut butter in the microwave for 45 minutes. Stir in condensed milk to combine. Mix the crushed cereal into the condensed milk, then add both chips and the chopped Butterfinger candy. Mix quickly until everything is well coated.

Press quickly in the 8 x 8 pan, and using the palm of your hand or spatula, flatten the mixture evenly, pressing hard. Let sit for one hour to cool and set.

Meanwhile melt chocolate almond bark with the Canola oil in the microwave until it is able to be drizzled. Once your bar cookies are set pull the parchment out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Flatten the parchment around the bar cookies so you have a surface to drizzle the chocolate mess-free. Use a fork and using the tines and a flick of the wrist, drizzle the tops of the bar cookies with the chocolate. 

 Wait 10 - 15 minutes until the chocolate is set. Cut into squares. Should make about 25 cookies. Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment so they don't stick to one another (however, they won't last that long).

RECIPE: Nutella Filled Chocolate Bundt Cake with Almond Drizzle

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I seem to be obsessed with Bundt cakes lately. Since I discovered my bread crumb trick to prevent the cake from sticking, Bundt cakes are my go-to for a quick and easy last minute dessert. And it seems this summer has been BUSY with entertaining! My Bundt pan has been getting some good use.

My latest concoction was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see what Nutella did in the middle of a cake after an hour of baking. Would it stay gooey and lush? Or would it dry out and get absorbed into the cake? If my experiment worked, Nutella was going to find itself in the middle of many a cake.

As you can see, it worked. Oh did it work.

Also, I made this cake gluten free so my daughter could enjoy it. You can just use your favorite chocolate cake mix. Our favorite is Betty Crocker.

Will this work in cupcakes? Not sure.

Sounds like another post!
In the meantime, go get that Costco size Nutella jar and get baking.

Nutella Filled Bundt Cake with Almond Drizzle

one box of chocolate cake mix
two small boxes of instant chocolate pudding 
1/2 cup canola oil 
1 1/4 cup water 
4 eggs 
3/4 - 1 cup Nutella 

1 tablespoon almond butter 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 to 2 tablespoons of milk 
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla  extract

In a large bowl mix together the chocolate cake mix with the chocolate pudding. In another bowl whisk the oil with the water and four eggs. Gradually beat the wet ingredients into the dry until the chocolate cake batter is smooth and creamy. Meanwhile spray your Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray. Next, sprinkle bread crumbs lightly over the nonstick cooking spray. Tap the sides of the pan and shake out all excess. There should be a very thin layer of breadcrumbs on the sides of the pan. This will prevent the Bundt cake from sticking in the pan. 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour half the batter into the pan. Next spread the Nutella along the center, then carefully pour the rest of the cake batter over the Nutella filling. Gently use a spatula to even out the top batter.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until cake is done at the center and the top springs back to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cooling rack, and pull the pan off to reveal your cake. Pat off some of the excess bread crumbs, and cool completely. 

Meanwhile make the drizzle. In a small ramekin, heat the almond butter for 30 seconds in the microwave, then add the milk and the vanilla extract and mix. You may need to heat the mix for 20-30 minutes more. Next, mix in the powdered sugar and combine until smooth and able to be drizzled. You might need to add a little bit of powdered sugar or a little bit more milk to get the drizzling consistency you need. You don't want it too runny, you just want to be able to have the drizzle sit up on the cake. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle on top and let it set until ready to serve.

RECIPE: No Bake Blueberry Cookie Bars

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Hot summer months beg for easy and delicious treats for your family that don’t need turning on a hot oven for. No-bake cookies are a perfect solution for giving kids a quick treat, or a perfect dessert for a block party or get together on the deck. To make no bake cookies even easier, use Reynolds® parchment paper—it prevents a sticky mess in your pan, and gives you a great decorating surface at the same time. Once your cookies are decorated, just store them between some extra layers of parchment, making it easy for hungry fingers to get their sticky goodies. And just toss out the messy parchment paper used for decorating making kitchen clean up super easy, allowing you to spend quality time with your family. 

No Bake Blueberry Cookie Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 5-10 minutes, plus 1 hour set time Makes: Roughly 25 bars 


3 cups healthy dried berry cereal
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup of white chocolate chips 
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

1 square (2 ounces) vanilla almond bark
1/2 teaspoon Canola oil


LINE an 8x8 pan with Reynolds parchment paper.

*Kitchen tip: Cut down in each corner of the parchment while nestling it into the pan and overlap the corner flaps to allow the parchment to fit the pan easier.


PREP the cereal. Pour the cereal in a sealable plastic bag. Seal the bag. Use a rolling pin to roll over the cereal, crushing it to a fine, crumbly texture. Add cereal to a bowl and combine it with the dried blueberries and sliced almonds. Place near the stove.


COOK the corn syrup over medium low heat in a large saucepan until beginning to thin. Add the butter and almond butter. Simmer gently until melted and combined. Add the sugar and almond extract and heat a little more until just combined and sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat. Quickly stir the cereal mixture until all combined and the corn syrup is well distributed. Add the white chocolate chips last and mix in quickly.

PRESS the cereal mix into the parchment lined baking pan. Use a spatula or your fingers to press the cereal into a flat, compressed layer.

SET for one hour at room temperature. Bar cookies will set up as they cool.


PULL the parchment paper up from the overhang easily pulling out the bar cookies. Place parchment paper with the cookies on a cutting board and flatten Parchment paper around the bar cookies.

*Kitchen tip: Use the parchment paper as a way to drizzle the bar cookies with the vanilla bark without making a mess on your cutting board.

MELT the square of vanilla almond bark with the Canola oil in a microwave for 1-2 minutes. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle the cookies liberally with the melted vanilla almond bark.

SET the drizzle for 10 minutes.


CUT the cookies in 1" x 2" squares.

STORE the cookies in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper so they don't stick together.

TOSS the messy parchment paper, wipe your cutting board, store your baking pan and go play outside to enjoy some summer!

RECIPE: Baked Cherry Berry Oatmeal

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My daughter has been getting bored with the breakfast repertoire, and truthfully so have I. I read about some baked oatmeal recipes, where you can just throw all the ingredients in a pan and the oven does all the work. So I thought I would give it a try! I was over run with Bing cherries, so I wanted to use them up, and decided to couple it with some dried blueberries from Trader Joe's.

It turned out wonderfully. It was a thicker oatmeal, but you could drizzle servings with some extra milk to loosen it up if that's your speed. It almost felt like a bread pudding, but not. It was very flavorful and super easy. We also had extra to eat during the week as well.

I made this with Bing cherries, and I pitted them and sliced them the night before to make things go quicker. No one wants to be pitting cherries when they first roll out of bed-know what I mean? I need at least 2 cups of coffee before mamma goes near any kitchen gadget.

This is going to be part of the breakfast scene at our house from now on. I can't wait to experiment with other mix ins! Give it a try!

This recipe was adapted from a great food blog I found,

Baked Cherry Berry Oatmeal

2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of dried blueberries
2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1 egg
3 tablespoons of melted butter, slightly cooled
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 cups of pitted cherries, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 375° in an 8 x 8 baking pan or oblong casserole – spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl mix the oatmeal with the almonds (reserve 2 tbsp almonds for the top) brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and dried blueberries. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the milk, egg, butter, almond butter and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. The almond butter will separate but that's fine. It'll bake into the oatmeal in the oven, do not worry!

Place 3/4 of the cherries along the bottom of the baking pan in a layer. Next pour the oatmeal mixture over the cherries. Evenly pour the milk and egg mixture evenly and gently over the oatmeal. Hit the sides of the casserole dish with the palm of your hand so the milk finds its way to the bottom of the pan and evenly gets distributed.

Use a spoon if you must to make sure that the milk gets soaked by the oatmeal by gently pressing down on the oatmeal in various areas along the top. Finally nestle the remaining sliced cherries along the top of the oatmeal. Take the 2 tablespoons of reserved sliced almonds and sprinkle them along the top. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 45 minutes, until top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let the oatmeal cool slightly and serve warm with extra milk or maple syrup for drizzling.

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