Build Your Own Milkshake Bar

Build Your Own Milkshake Bar on

Can you think of a better way to kick off summer than a Build Your Own Milkshake Bar? Make everyone smile for miles with this crowd-pleasing dessert idea. This is a guest post I wrote for Blendtec Blenders. This is NOT a sponsored post, but I did receive a Blendtec Blender for review.   We are officially just days away from the official start of summer. It’s time to get your sundresses out of the storage bins, your fishing poles dusted off, and your grill fired up. It’s time for outdoor activities, fresh produce, and entertaining family and friends. Entertaining doesn’t have to take on epic proportions of preparation work to be memorable. Some of the best parties I’ve ever attended or thrown were ones where the focus was on simple dishes that gave ample time for visiting with loved ones. I’m talking REALLY simple, folks. As in deli meats on a tray, sliced bread, condiments and a pickle tray… Baked potatoes with a plethora of toppings in bowls… Cheeses, fruits, crackers, and a variety of mustards and honeys… Fresh, crusty bread with several jars of jam… These are the get-togethers I remember fondly. Do you see the commonality in each of those parties I remember so fondly? It’s the build-your-own aspect! It’s truly a please them all scenario. The host or hostess puts some effort into providing options for everyone, lays them out, and lets everyone construct the dish the perfect dish for her or himself. It’s win/win. The sure-fire party maker … {Read on...}

Grilled Pineappple Relish

Grilled Pineapple Relish goes with pork, fish, chicken, and beef!

You know what's awesome? This stuff is. I'm a big fan of fruit relishes and salsas as a fast way to add big flavour to grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef, and vegetarian main dishes. It is a salty/sweet juggernaut of deliciousness in one little fast and furious side dish. Pineapple relish or salsa by itself is a delicious thing and will forever live in my recipe repertoire, but GRILLED PINEAPPLE RELISH? Oh baby. This relish has it all for the summer. Fresh pineapple can be tricky to find where I live (read: next to a cow pasture in the woods in the middle of nowhere), but canned pineapple rings in juice are pretty ubiquitous. Interesting factoid? I have not one, not two, but THREE friends who are unrelated and do not know each other that have allergies to fresh pineapple but can eat the canned stuff because of the heat and pressure of the canning process killing a certain histamine causing compound. Wild, huh? What makes this relish so special is a fast trip to the grill for the pineapple. It doesn't take long on the grill -you're just leaving it in place on one side until it gets grill marks, flipping and repeating- and it doesn't take much fussing, but what a difference that couple of minutes makes! The heat, brief as it is, caramelizes the natural sugars in the pineapple and concentrates the sweetness, the char marks add a little umami and smoky quality. The grilled pineapple combined with the mildness of Vidalia onion, heat of jalapeno, citrusy quality of fresh … {Read on...}

Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries

Crispy, Creamy, pan-fried Avocado Fries from

Avocado lovers, take notice! Ripe avocados are sliced, breaded with spiced up panko bread crumbs, and shallow pan-fried until crispy on the outside and creamy, dreamy on the inside. This is eyes-roll-back-in-your-head good. Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries are simple to make with a huge payoff. Pair with the dip of your choice: salsa, ketchup, or Smoked Paprika and Chipotle Sauce. My husband took one bite of these Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries. His eyes rolled back into his head and he moaned à la Homer Simpson, "Where have you BEEN all my life?" It's understandable, really. What we're talking about here is the ULTIMATE in snack food. It's fried (in a pan in shallow oil, please don't panic!), it's super crisp on the outside, and it's wicked creamy on the inside and it's MADE OF PRIMAL GUACAMOLE. Yes. I think of avocados-in-the-raw as primal guacamole. When I asked my dearly beloved what he would say to people about these Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries, he said, "Tell them they're surprisingly delicious!" then he sighed deeply. This deep sigh was because he's trying to restrict his calories for a couple of weeks and evidently fried Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries don't fit into those plans. Sigh from me, too. Being a good wife, I won't tempt the poor guy, but I have a hankering for them. That hankering is so strong, in fact, that I'm about to alter my 15-years-standing birthday meal request of my husband's Extra Crispy Fried Chicken Fingers to include these. Hey, you only … {Read on...}

Bagel Burgers with Dill Pickle Cream Cheese

Bagel Burgers with Dill Pickle Cream Cheese #burgerweek

Bagel Burgers with Dill Pickle Cream Cheese are just one of those things that had to happen eventually. McDonald's in France (or Mac-Do, as they were called when I was living there) has been serving burgers on bagels for years, but I thought it was time for bagels, burgers, cream cheese, and pickles all to come together Stateside in one glorious summer perfect meal. These Bagel Burgers with Dill Pickle Cream Cheese are my submission for #BurgerWeek. Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see other unique burgers from top food bloggers AND to learn how to enter for a chance to win one of two Broil King gas grills and multiple accessory packages! How perfect would it be to start the summer with a brand new shiny grill? I know. I KNOW. It's not OFFICIALLY summer yet. By my reckoning, though, any time we have three days in a row that measure over 80°F we are in summer, and around here, summer has arrived. In our house, that means as little cooking IN the house as is humanly possible. The grill is used for as many meals as we can cook on it or adapt to it. And bread? Yeah... we still need our daily, but we prefer it in a form that doesn't require mama to fire up the oven; by we, I mean me. Enter bagels and tortillas. I haven't yet figured out a way to make tortillas man up to the job of holding a burger, but bagels? Naturally. They're sturdy, they're round, and they're delicious. When I went to Manhattan last month, I didn't want to bring my kids some NYC t-shirts or … {Read on...}

Boozy Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Boozy Strawberry Basil Lemonade made with strawberry basil infused vodka from

Boozy Strawberry Basil Lemonade is the perfect blend of sweet and tart to wet your whistle on warm summer evenings. Made with Strawberry Basil Infused Vodka, this craft cocktail is made with love. Don't fret, though, craft cocktail doesn't mean you have to go to bartending school. Boozy Strawberry Basil Lemonade makes great cocktails achievable for everyman (and woman!) Cocktail power to the people! Until recently, my eyes kind of glazed over whenever anyone started talking cocktails. Yep, lots of kinds of liquor and liqueur sloshed into a glass with ice. I found the old school of mixology both unappealing and intimidating. There were too many varieties of hooch to keep track off and I didn't have enough desire to learn about it. Drinks had stupid names like Sex on the Beach. Blah blah blah. I don't care if it's the tastiest drink ever known to man, I was NOT going to a bar and asking for 'sex on the beach'. I DO, however, like this modern brand of mixology that borrows from the culinary scene. Using things like herbs and bacon and chocolate (not necessarily all together, mind you), mixologists are turning out adult beverages that are complex in flavour but MAKE SENSE. They're taking advantage of alcohol's innate ability to dissolve flavours and its volatility to deliver aroma. I like this stuff. Instead of using a jigger of this and a whoosie of that and fifty billion different little additions, we start with something most people know: vodka. Easy peasy, … {Read on...}