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    Dinner tonight? Guacamole Grilled Cheese. Ripe Haas Avocados mashed and spread on crusty bread, paired with ooey-gooey cheese.

    It’s a farmer’s market dinner that’s as decadent and over the top as it is fresh and packed with healthy ingredients.

    Summertime at its best.

    To make the guacamole:
    2 ripe avocados
    1/2 small onion, minced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 small jalapeño, stems and seeds removed, minced
    2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped (optional)
    1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    A dash of freshly grated black pepper
    1 Roma tomato, chopped

    4 slices crusty white bread
    4 slices or 4 oz shredded Cheddar, jack or colby cheese
    Butter, for buttering bread

    To make guacamole-cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from peel, put in large bowl. Using fork to mash the avocado. Add  onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Add the chopped tomato and stir.

    Heat pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Spread desired amount of guacamole on both slices of bread then top with cheese. Butter outer slices of bread and grill on one side for about 2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip the sandwich and grill until golden brown. Make the other sandwich the same way and serve warm.



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    Today. Mars Chocolate announced a price hike on everything from Snickers to M&Ms. Luckily, my Homemade Snickers Bars will make you never want to buy the original again.

    So good, so easy, so insanely yum.

    Bottom Layer:
    1 1/4 c milk chocolate chips
    1/4 c creamy peanut butter

    Nougat Layer:
    1/4 c unsalted butter
    1 c granulated sugar
    1/4 c evaporated milk
    1 1/2 c marshmallow fluff
    1/4 c creamy peanut butter
    1 1/2 c salted peanuts roughly chopped
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    Caramel Layer:
    1 14-oz bag of caramels
    1/4 c heavy whipping cream

    Top Layer:
    1 1/4 c milk chocolate chips
    1/4 c creamy peanut butter

    Make:

    Bottom: Grease ½ sheet aluminum baking pan. Melt chocolate, peanut butter together in microwave in 30-second intervals, stir in between. Pour onto baking dish, spread evenly. Cool.

    Nougat: Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add sugar, milk, stir til dissolved. Bring to boil. Cook 5 min, stir occasionally. Add fluff, peanut butter, vanilla, stir til smooth. Turn off heat, fold in peanuts. Pour over chocolate layer. Cool.

    Caramel layer: Combine caramels and cream in pan on low heat. Stir til melted. Pour over nougat. Cool.

    Top: Melt chocolate and peanut butter together in microwave in 30-second intervals, stir in between. Pour evenly over layers. Refrigerate 1-hour or more. Cut into bars. Store in fridge.



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    These Metallic Leather cans make stunning vases or pencil holders. They’re a fast, easy DIY project that makes for a chic tabletop or a fabulous gift.

    Try it this weekend!

    Get:

    • Pull off top tin cans cleaned and dried
    • Sharp craft scissors
    • Realeather Craft Lace in Metallic Gold or Silver (http://amzn.to/WG1iTJ)
    • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

     

    Make:

    Heat glue gun on low. Squeeze small line of glue beneath top lip of can. Immediately place 1 loose end of leather cord into glue and press down to adhere.

     

    Apply another short line of glue just slightly below the top lip of your can, and directly following the portion of cord that is already attached. Don’t place the glue too close to the edge or you will have a messy top. Place leather cord into hot glue, making sure to pull the cord tight as you are working so that there is no slack in the cord. Continue to work in small sections, adding glue, and placing leather cord, until you have made your way back to your starting point.

     

    Add a small dot of glue on top of the cord end (where you started) and overlap the loose end of your leather cord over it, angling it down slightly.

     

    Continue to wrap leather cord around the can, keeping the cord taught as you work, and the top edge of your cord snug against the bottom line of the cord above it. You will not need to glue the cord down along every row. If you’d like to apply a small dab of glue every few rows to make it extra secure, you can.

     

    Continue wrapping cord around your can until it is completely covered. Glue the loose end atop the last wrapped row and snip off excess cord. You’ll see that the leather on the back of the can angles down just a bit.

     

    Use fingernail or tip of your scissors to carefully remove any excess glue along the edges. Fill with pencils or flowers. Voila!



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    Bacon Brown Sugar Waffles. Is there anything left to say?

    For the Bacon

    10 slices of bacon

    1/4 c brown sugar

     

    Preheat oven 375 F.  Spray baking sheet with non stick cooking spray and line with foil.  Arrange bacon in a single layer on baking sheet.  Sprinkle generously with brown sugar.  Place in upper third of oven and bake til sugar is caramelized and bacon is brown and crispy, 10 -15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Immediately remove bacon slices using tongs. Place on cutting board (not paper towels, they’ll stick!) to cool before chopping. Once cool, chop into bite size bits and set aside.

     

    For the Waffles

    3 c all-purpose flour

    1 tbsp baking powder

    1 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp salt

    1/4 c brown sugar

    2/3 c canola oil

    4 large eggs

    2 tsp vanilla extract

    2 1/2 c buttermilk

     

    Preheat waffle iron. In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar. Whisk to blend. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold.  Once almost fully incorporated, add bacon. Stir but do not over mix or the waffles will be tough.  It’s ok if a few lumps remain in the batter. Cook according to your waffle machine instructions. Serve with maple syrup and bananas… Or with a fried egg on top! Mmmm.



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    With the heat rising, it seemed the perfect moment to re-post one of my most popular recipes ever. It’s a guilt-free riff on ice cream that’s creamy, dreamy, and seriously simple — with a fraction of the fat and calories for 100% no-regret bliss:

    Frozen Banana “Ice Cream”
    2 ½ cups of sliced, then frozen, ripe bananas (about 4)
    ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    1-2 tsp. honey or Grade A maple syrup

    Put frozen bananas in bowl of food processor or blender.
    Add milk, vanilla, & sweetener to taste, process ‘til smooth.
    Transfer to chilled bowls and serve immediately with toppings—or store covered, in freezer, in a glass baking dish.

    Suggested toppings/stir-ins: granola, mini-chocolate chips, toasted coconut, sliced fresh fruit, chopped raw, toasted, salted or honey roasted nuts, chocolate sauce, peanut butter, Nutella.



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    Last night we made pizza on the grill and it was insanely delicious. The perfect char, the perfect crunch and I would argue that it’s easier than making pizza in an oven.

    Using room temp, store-bought balls of dough, on floured surface, tear off 3” pieces and roll flat to desired size (asymmetry is fine).

    Brush well with olive oil (garlic olive oil is even better), sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Place oiled side down, onto medium-hot grill. Grill until bottom is golden, about 4 min. Check doneness, lift edge with tongs, flip. Add toppings; cook covered 3-4 min, until cheese is bubbly.

    For utterly delish toppings & recipes, click here: http://bit.ly/110Y1JD



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    There’s nothing I love more than blueberry pie in the summer. But a good recipe can be elusive. This one is simply perfect… And perfectly simple. It’s summer on a plate and so much easier than you think.

    Ingredients:

    ·       2/3 c granulated sugar

    ·       1-1/2 oz. (1/3 c) unbleached all-purpose flour

    ·       1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbs.

    ·       Juice (from 1 medium lemon)

    ·       Big pinch table salt

    ·       Scant pinch of ground cinnamon

    ·       6 c (30 oz.) fresh blueberries, rinsed and thoroughly dried

    ·       1 large egg

    ·       2 tbsp coarse sugar, such as turbinado or white sanding sugar

    ·       1 box store-bought piecrust. I love Trader Joe’s frozen rolled crusts, thawed. Or two homemade crusts.

     

    Instructions:

    1.     Position rack in center of oven and set foil-lined heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on rack. Heat oven to 425°F.

    2.     Line pie dish with one crust.

    3.     In large bowl, combine sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice, salt and cinnamon. Add 1 c blueberries and crush them into dry ingredients with potato masher or fork to make paste.

    4.     Add remaining berries and toss to coat.

    5.     Scrape filling into crust with rubber spatula, spreading evenly.

    6.     Place top crust over top in lattice pattern, or flat, with slits cut for ventilation.

    7.     Crimp edges to seal. In small bowl, beat egg and 1 tbsp water til blended.

    8.     Using small pastry brush, brush egg mixture evenly over top and edges, and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar.

    9.     Put pie on the heated baking sheet and reduce oven temp to 375°F.

    10.  Bake til the edges are pale golden, about 30 minutes, then cover edges with foil and continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling about 2” from the center, 80- 90 minutes.

    11.  Cool on a rack to room temp.

    12.  It’s best on the day it’s made, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead and store it, covered when cool, at room temperature.

     



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    I’m fairly certain there’s nothing more delicious than an heirloom tomato in summer. My local farmer’s market has endless varieties to choose from—some sweet, some tart—all unbelievably delicious.


    My favorite way to eat them other than a simple salad, is this mind-blowing crostini from my beloved Barefoot Contessa. Minutes to make and absolutely perfect.

    Heirloom Tomato and Whipped Feta Crostini:
    6 oz good feta, crumbled
    2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
    2/3 c good olive oil, divided
    2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 Tbsp minced shallots (2 shallots)
    2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
    2 Tbsp good red wine vinegar
    2 lb ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
    3 Tbsp julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
    20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
    2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts

    Place feta and cream cheese in food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse til mixed. Add 1/3 c olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2-tsp salt, and 1/4-tsp pepper, process til smooth. Up to 1-hour before serving, combine shallots, garlic, vinegar in medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1/3 c olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Add tomatoes, stir gently, set aside for 10 min. Stir in basil and taste for seasonings. To assemble: spread each slice of bread with generous amount of whipped feta. With slotted spoon, place tomatoes on top. Plate and scatter with pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.


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    Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pops. Need I say more?

    Makes about 10 pops using this mold http://amzn.to/1jCbFCc

    5-6 frozen, ripe bananas

    10 oz chocolate chips

    1/3 c peanut butter

    3 tbsp coconut oil, divided

    1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped

     

    Cut frozen bananas into chunks and pulse in the food processor til smooth. Spoon pureed bananas into Popsicle molds, insert sticks, and freeze for several hours (or days). When ready to coat pops, line a baking sheet with parchment and pop in freezer. In microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and 2 tbsp of the coconut oil. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between each, til chocolate is melted and smooth.

    In another microwave safe bowl, combine peanut butter and remaining coconut oil and repeat the same process as chocolate.

     

    Remove banana pops from freezer and carefully un-mold. You may have to run under just warm water for a few seconds to get them out without breaking. Working quickly, dip pops in  chocolate, using a spoon to help coat completely, let excess chocolate drip, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pops. Stick baking sheet back into freezer til the chocolate shell is completely set. Once set, drizzle the pops with peanut butter and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Place the sheet back into the freezer til set. Can be stored in the freezer for several days.



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    Just made these no-bake, couldn’t be easier Peanut Butter Butterscotch Marshmallow Bars for a day at the beach tomorrow.

    Somewhere between fudge, a Blondie, and a Payday candy bar they’re sure to please everyone young and old.

    No Bake Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

    2 c creamy peanut butter
    1/2 c salted butter
    1 11-oz bag butterscotch morsels
    2 10.5-oz bags mini marshmallows

    Heat large pot over low heat and add peanut butter, butter and butterscotch chips. Stir constantly til totally melted – about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 20 minutes more stirring occasionally.

    Fold in marshmallows until evenly coated and distributed – some may melt, and that’s fine. Oil 9×13” pan and spread mixture evenly in pan with a spatula. Store in fridge until chilled and ready to serve. Cut into small squares and voila!



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    These Caramel Cracker Bars from #shugarysweets are the things my dessert loving dreams are made of.

    • 2 c graham cracker crumbs
    • 1 c brown sugar
    • 1 c granulated sugar
    • 1 c butter
    • ½ c milk
    • 1 box Ritz crackers (about 80 crackers)
    • 1 c butterscotch morsels
    • 1 c semi-sweet morsels
    • ¾ c peanut butter
    1. In saucepan, heat graham cracker crumbs, sugars, butter and milk. Bring to a boil and continue stirring while boiling for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
    2. In foil lined (and buttered) 13x9 baking dish, layer Ritz crackers over bottom. Pour half of caramel mixture over Ritz, then lay another layer of Ritz over caramel mixture, and remaining caramel. Repeat with one more layer of Ritz crackers. Refrigerate while continuing with next step in recipe.
    3. In small saucepan, melt butterscotch and semi sweet morsels with peanut butter. Stir until smooth and creamy. Pour over Ritz crackers, refrigerate 4 hours or over night.
    4. Cut into bite size pieces and enjoy cold!


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    Mini Ice Cream sandwiches in minutes. Yep.

    • 24 Nabisco Chocolate Wafers, from 1 box
    • 3 pints favorite ice cream
    • Toppings to coat edges, optional
    • Sauces, jams, spreads, nut butter
    • Large, deep Tupperware container
    • Parchment paper or aluminum foil
    1. Take ice cream out of  freezer and let sit for a few minutes to soften. Place large, deep tupperware container in freezer for finished sandwiches. Prepare sheets of parchment or foil to place in between layers of sandwiches. Place toppings in shallow bowls for dipping.
    2. Set yourself up near freezer. Using a small ice cream or large cookie scoop, scoop mound of ice cream onto a cookie. Spread sauce, nut butter or spread on second cookie. Top with second cookie and push down slightly (press on the centers of the cookies to prevent breakage). Leave as is for a more rustic sandwich or, working over the ice cream container, use the back of a butter knife to smooth the edges. Roll in topping if desired. Place finished sandwich in Tupperware container in freezer and repeat with the next. When you have filled the bottom of the Tupperware container, cover the sandwiches with parchment paper or foil and stack more sandwiches on top. Continue until all sandwiches are made.
    3. Cover with lid and let sit at least 6 hours or overnight so cookies will soften a bit. Right before serving, stack the ice cream sandwiches on a platter and serve.


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    Red, white and blue-berries are a fun and easy way to make a statement this 4th of July.

     

    A simple, yet decadent mix of tangy mascarpone cheese, vanilla, and sugar mixed with the sweet-tang of the berries is as good as summer desserts get. Make a batch and set out on a pretty blue tray to wow your guests or host.

     

    Red White & Blue Stuffed Strawberries

    20-25 fresh strawberries

    20-25 fresh blueberries

    80 oz. Mascarpone cheese

    3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

    1 tsp vanilla

     

    Wash and dry strawberries and blueberries. Set blueberries aside. Using a small paring knife, cut the bottom off of each berry so that they stand up on a plate or tray. Using a melon baller, scoop out the top and stem of the strawberry. In a mixer beat together cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Place this mixture in a ziploc bag and snip off a tiny corner of one bag to make an opening like a pastry bag. Alternatively, use a pastry bag if you have one available. Gently squeeze the cheese mixture into each berry and top it with a fresh blueberry. Serve.



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    Mason jars can be found everywhere and are a fun and inexpensive way to serves breakfasts, desserts, cocktails and even baked goods.

    Buy them, large or small, at your grocery or craft store, and use them this 4th of July for everything from brownie sundaes and pies (baked in the jar) to lemonade and ice cream.

    I’ll be serving Strawberry Mojitos in mine… And these fast, easy and insanely delicious Frozen Mud Pies that are sure to please every guest on my list!

     

    Mason Jar Mud Pies

    2 cups heavy cream
    2 1/2 cups whole milk
    1/2 cup strong coffee, chilled
    1 cup sugar

    Jarred Fudge Sauce Heated
    1 tsp vanilla

    Chopped roasted almonds

    Crushed Oreos

     

    Mix everything except the almonds, oreos and fudge sauce together, mix well and pour into ice cream maker. Mix according to your ice cream maker instructions. Layer chopped Oreos,  fudge sauce and ice cream in mason jars, repeat til you’ve reached the top of jar. Sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with fudge sauce. Serve immediately or store in freezer until ready to serve.



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    Red, white and perfect for your 4th of July fete.


    Juicy watermelon, paired with feta, and balsamic vinegar may very well be the best summertime salad you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Trust me, it’s so delicious, your guests will swoon and your head will spin.

     

    4 oz block best quality feta cheese

    1/4 of a large watermelon, cubed into bite-sized pieces

    Mint leaves

    Skewers

    Balsamic for drizzling

     

    Cube watermelon into bite sized pieces. Cube the block of feta. To assemble, stack the feta and watermelon with a mint leaf in between. Using a skewer or toothpick, skewer the stack. Add ½ c balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and reduce for 3-5 minutes, over medium heat, til thickened. Drizzle over skewers.



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