Some Yummy Ideas for the 4th…

Can you believe June is pretty much over and Monday is the 4th of July?! Wow! Where did the first half of my summer go?! I’m actually really looking forward to the weekend because we’re having Joel’s family over for a little backyard BBQ. This will be the first get-together I’ve hosted in a LONG time! We’ll be grilling burgers and having all kinds of yummy snacks! I’ve already got plans for a funfetti cake! Yay! In case you’re hosting a little shindig of your own and need a few fantastic ideas, I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes that are perfect for the 4th! Enjoy!

First up, my mom’s BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos. We had these last year on the 4th of July and I went to bed that night dreaming about them they were so good! In fact, I’ll definitely be making these Sunday!

If you need an easy, cold appetizer, this one is a winner. My friend Callie’s Zesty Tortilla Roll-Ups. I LOVE the combination of the ranch seasoning with the olives and green chiles- these babies are SO good!

On Demand Dip- a combination of white corn, black beans, Rotel tomatoes, cilantro and lime, this dip is a family favorite. It’s the easiest thing in the world to throw together and it’s a nice change of pace from regular salsa. A real crowd pleaser!

Easy Grilled Chicken Shish-Kabobs- these couldn’t be easier or tastier! Put some marinated chicken, fresh pineapple, red onion and peppers on a skewer and grill ‘em up! Perfect for large crowds!

Salsa Verde Turkey Burgers- I haven’t made these in awhile, but I sure need to! These burgers have salsa verde tossed right in with the meat, so it’s good and flavorful. I love the melted pepper jack cheese and avocados!

We can’t get enough of these Jalapeno Deviled Eggs! The addition of fresh chopped jalapeno adds a real kick and so much extra flavor! And what BBQ would be complete without deviled eggs?!

There just aren’t enough holidays for me to get to make this Fresh Strawberry Pie. I never get tired of it. So juicy and delicious, and topped with a little whipped cream, this will be everyone’s favorite!

Peach-Blueberry Sour Cream Pie. This pie is so summery and fresh. I love the combination of peaches and blueberries and the crunchy topping is awesome!

And while we’re covering pie, I might as well post this one, because what says “4th of July” like All American Apple Pie? It’s the best apple pie I’ve ever eaten, actually.  In fact, now that I think of it, maybe I should make this instead of funfetti cake this weekend….

Last but not least, I leave you with these 4th of July Cupcakes- Dorie Greenspan’s perfect party cake gets all dressed up in red, white and blue for the 4th. How perfect! Whatever you do this Independence Day, I hope you have loads of fun with friends and family! Enjoy!

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Oreo-Stuffed Brownies…

Are you sick of all my Oreo recipes yet? No? Good, me either!! ;) I’m telling you, there isn’t a dessert out there that couldn’t be improved with Oreos! Now, when it comes to brownies, I’d like to think of myself as a purist. I don’t want nuts or any other add-ins (usually); I just prefer a warm brownie with a cold glass of milk (soy, of course…bleh). But I had an unopened package of Oreos staring at me and a serious craving for brownies, so I decided to just throw some in! These were GOOD! The Oreos get a little soft during the baking process so they’re nice and chewy inside the gooey brownies. I used my favorite brownie recipe and couldn’t have been more pleased with how they turned out! A new favorite!

Oreo-Stuffed Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 package Oreos (Double Stuff is best!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot, but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

While the sugar heats a second time, beat the eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth.

Spoon half of the batter into the greased pan. Place the Oreos in even rows across the batter (as many as you can fit). Pour the remaining batter over the Oreos and gently spread to the edges of the pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the brownies for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe source: brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour; the “Oreo-Stuffed” part is my idea (though I’m sure it’s not exactly a new concept)

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My Mom’s Pasta Salad…

Hi there! Sorry it’s been so long, but thanks for sticking by me and being so patient! Today is the first day I’ve felt like even turning on my laptop in weeks! Hopefully all this yucky sickness will pass soon and I can get back to doing what I love: EATING! For those of you who are interested, I’m at 8 1/2 weeks and the baby is the size of a raspberry! How cute!

Anyway, I’ve wanted to post this pasta salad for weeks now because it’s SO good! It’s my mom’s recipe and she usually makes it in the summer. We had this on our Memorial Day menu along with barbecued chicken, grilled pineapple, baked beans and fresh strawberry pie (I could really go for some of that pie right about now!). Despite having mayo, it’s still really light and definitely not gloppy. The olives are my favorite part, but I also love the crunch of the celery and green peppers- really, every single aspect of it is delicious and you just can’t go wrong with this salad! Try it at your next cookout! You’ll love it!

My Mom’s Pasta Salad

1 16-ounce package spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces chopped pimento
2 cups celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Toss the cooked spaghetti with the oil and mayonnaise then stir in all other ingredients. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Recipe source: my mom

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A Little Announcement…

Wow, sorry about that. It’s been like, FOREVER since I posted anything! How sad! But I swear I have a good reason! At first it was because I was so busy with the operas (they went great, by the way!), but then I became preoccupied with other things…things like saltine crackers, ginger ale and 24 hour sickness. No, I don’t have a cold- I’ve been very busy baking up something VERY special:

WE’RE HAVING A BABY!!!!

Yep, that’s right! Joel and I are having a baby and I just couldn’t WAIT to share the news with you! This is our first (well, if you don’t count Izzy) and I’m so excited that we get to share the experience with all of you! My readers are so special to me and I’m just thrilled to be able to keep you updated through every step! Right now I’m at about 7 weeks along and my due date is January 25 (I missed Mozart’s birthday by 2 days! Shucks!). We had our first doctor’s appointment Wednesday and we got to see the baby’s heartbeat! Very awesome! Please be patient with me throughout these next couple of weeks- I’m as sick as a dog and food is definitely NOT my friend right now. I’m going to do my very best to post often, but when the sight of pasta salad sends me running to the bathroom, it makes it just a teensy bit difficult (jeez, I can barely type pasta salad without wanting to puke).

Bear with me, friends! And pray for me- this is going to be SO new and SO different! And most of all- thanks for sticking with me! :)

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