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How is your garden growing?

Ours is pretty lush, as the Midwest has had SO MUCH WATER! My neighbors and I have had a windfall of various produce, and we share and exchange various vegetables and herbs with one another, which is super fun.
A lot or fresh produce means what I call "Farmer's Guilt"  pressure on what to make with it all. Well, worry not. I have posted my top favorite zucchini recipes from the blog, so that you can start making a dent in what I am guessing is a prolific zucchini crop. 

Some of our family's top faves? The chocolate zucchini bread is life changing, and the zucchini fritters is an easy way to get some vegetables into little kids tummies. I know because they've worked for us every summer. And those fritters heat up nicely for a light lunch the next day.

Happy harvesting!

Baked Rigatoni with Garden Eggplant and Zucchini

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Pine Nut Bread

Stuffed Zucchini with Corn and Cous Cous

Lighten Up! Vegetable Lasagna

3 Cheese Quinoa Cups

Summer Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Smoky Corn Chowder

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It's summer, and that means corn, corn corn. Ever have a large BBQ, and you have a ton of left over ears of corn? That happened over the 4th, and my friend Jean gave me a ton of left over corn from the BBQ. She did this cool thing where she cooked a ton of it in a cooler of boiling hot water for half the day, and served it up like that to a large crowd. She found it on Pinterest...I'll have to find that pin.

Anyway, I digress. So I had all this corn, and you can make a lot with corn. But I had some delicious smokey Hunter style bacon, and decided to make a wonderful corn chowder in the slow cooker using the bacon as a base. The slow cooker kept the kitchen cooler, and I chose it also because I had a full day of yard work ahead of me. It worked out great. The bacon gave a nice salty-smokey flavor, and the corn had a fresh flavor to it. I also tried this trick (see pic below) of using a Bundt pan to cut off and catch corn kernels off the cob. I don't need to tell you, it was pretty life changing. The chowder wasn't too bad either!

Slow Cooker Smoky Corn Chowder
Adapted from america's best slow cooker recipes


7 ears of corn kernels, cut off the cob (see trick in picture below)
1/2 cup hunters bacon, chopped in dice
3  stalks of celery, thinly sliced 
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped 
1 1/2 cups medium onion, finely chopped 
4 cups of chicken stock
2 bay leaves 
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of butter 
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour 
1 can (13 ounces) of evaporated milk 
1 cup grated cheddar cheese plus extra for garnish 


In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until beginning to brown and fat is rendered. Next, add the onions and the celery and saute until onions are beginning to become translucent. Splash a 1/4 -1/2 cup of chicken stock to the pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Continue cooking until some of the liquid has been evaporated. 

Take off the heat and add to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on low and add the chopped potatoes, the corn and the rest of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, salt and pepper. 

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours (HIGH 4-5 hours), stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are tender and the time is up remove the bay leaves and prep the roux. In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter then add flour and stir to make a smooth paste. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to combine. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until completely melted. Gradually stir in the milk sauce into the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on high and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Ladle up the soup and serve garnished with additional cheddar cheese on top and fresh parsley.

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!

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