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Summer Salad IdeasHere are a few summer salad ideas you can take inspiration from when it just gets too hot to cook. Summer is short, so there’s no time to lose if you are going to take advantage of the abundance of fresh produce available.

Without further ado, let’s start with the perfect hot weather combination: fruit and salad greens.

Nothing like fresh fruit to provide a little sweetness and brighten up mundane salad ingredients.

Watermelon Feta Cheese Salad with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

Sweet watermelon and salty feta cheese make the perfect pair. Combine with peppery fresh arugula, finish with a homemade lime-cilantro vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a marriage of flavors that will keep you coming back over and over again.

Watermelon Feta Cheese Salad1 small round seedless watermelon, cut in half, flesh removed
3 ounces feta cheese, cut into evenly sized pieces
3 cups fresh arugula, cleaned and dried

Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, washed, dried and chopped into small pieces
3 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Make the lime-cilantro vinaigrette in advance if at all possible in order to give the flavors a chance to meld. Whisk all ingredients together in a small glass bowl to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Cut watermelon in half; remove and reserve flesh in a glass bowl. Pat the inside of each empty watermelon rind with a paper towel to dry. Set aside to use as serving bowls for the finished salad.

Add feta and washed arugula to a glass bowl along with the watermelon. Top with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, add watermelon feta mixture to reserved watermelon rinds and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. For more than two people, use additional small round watermelons or substitute other serving bowls.

Orange Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Orange Fennel SaladThis fennel citrus salad combo allows two strong, distinct flavors to shine. Best to keep it simple with the addition of mild romaine lettuce rather than dark salad greens such as peppery arugula – that would be overkill!

Just make sure you prepare the vinaigrette in advance so that the ingredients have a chance to combine properly.

3 blood or navel oranges, cut into thin slices with rind removed
1 bulb fennel, washed, dried and thinly sliced, bottom & green leaves discarded
1 head Romaine or other leafy green lettuce

Citrus Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup really good extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Whenever adding citrus zest to a recipe, it is best to start with organic ingredients. Also be sure to wash the fruit thoroughly and pat dry. Zest each piece of fruit with a microplane and add the specified amount to the bowl.

TIP: Zest the entire fruit and freeze surplus in a plastic bag for future use or simply collect remaining juice from each piece of fruit and store in ice cube containers along with leftover zest.

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a glass bowl and whisk together thoroughly to combine. The Dijon mustard will act as an emulsifier to bind the oil and acidic components together.

Arrange the romaine or other lettuce leaves on each plate and top with alternating slices of fennel and orange. Drizzle entire plate with citrus vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese SaladStart with the peppery sweet arugula pear salad combo, add smooth creamy blue cheese and finish with a drizzle of rich balsamic glaze – just don’t forget to roast your pears first!

Serves 4

4 cups arugula, washed and dried
4 ounces creamy blue cheese*, divided into small chunks
2 ripe red or green pears, cored and cut into equal-size wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
*such as Italian Gorgonzola or French Saint Agur Triple Cream

1 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange pear slices on sheet, leaving space in between to prevent overcrowding. Lightly brush each pear slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place in the oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip each pear slice. Return to oven and continue roasting until evenly browned and soft, approximately 10–15 minutes. Oven roasting times will vary, so keep an eye on them the first time you make them.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, add one cup of balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and continue stirring until liquid is reduced to a third of its original volume. Liquid will become thick and syrupy when it is ready.

To serve, divide arugula, roasted pear slices and blue cheese between four plates. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately with fresh-cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Caprese Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad

We’ve upped the ante on the classic Caprese recipe by using a thicker, richer balsamic glaze instead of the traditional drizzling of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Caprese Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad4 large ripe tomatoes
12 ounces fresh mozzarella (large ball)
1 large bunch fresh basil, washed and dried
3 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash and pat tomatoes and fresh basil dry. Slice tomatoes into evenly sized pieces, approximately ¼” thick and set aside. Discard bottom and top pieces. Slice fresh mozzarella into ¼” thick pieces as well.

On each plate, start with a tomato slice, followed by mozzarella and a large, fresh basil leaf. Repeat this pattern until you’ve added one tomato and approximately 3 ounces of mozzarella to each plate, finishing each arrangement with a tomato slice. Drizzle with high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

To make the balsamic glaze, heat one cup of good balsamic vinegar over medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and, stirring continually, simmer until liquid is reduced to about one third of its original volume. The glaze is ready when the liquid becomes thick and syrupy.

Let the glaze cool before drizzling over your salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with additional sprigs of fresh basil.

Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad with Roasted Chicken

Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad with Roasted ChickenWho doesn’t enjoy a classic romaine lettuce salad? Double the pleasure by first grilling your romaine lettuce: simply cut a head of fresh romaine in half and cook on your electric grill for a few minutes… magic happens.

You’ll be surprised at how much such this simple step intensifies the flavors and adds depth to an otherwise basic salad. Don’t have a countertop grill? Follow the directions below and use your oven.

Serves 4

2 heads Romaine lettuce, washed, patted dry, cut in half lengthwise
8 ounces rotisserie chicken breast meat
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
½ cup pecans, chopped

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Set your oven to broil.

Cut the romaine heads in half and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place under pre-heated broiler for a couple of minutes, keeping a close eye on it as lettuce will burn quickly. Remove once the lettuce is a nice, golden brown.

Add all the ingredients for the balsamic vinaigrette together in a glass bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Allow vinaigrette to sit for at least half an hour to give the flavors a chance to meld.

Place one half of browned Romaine head on each plate and top with two ounces of chicken and one ounce of goat cheese. Divide sliced red cabbage and chopped pecans among the four plates. Drizzle each salad with a little of the vinaigrette and serve immediately.sliced red cabbage and chopped pecans among the four plates. Drizzle each salad with a little of the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Easy Homemade SoupsEnjoy the following easy homemade soup recipes and reap the benefits of fresh garden produce whether you grew it yourself or bought from your farmers’ market. Blended soups have to be one of the quickest and tastiest way to put healthy lunches or dinner starters on the table.

With a regular blender, remember to allow the soup to cool first before blending, or simply use a hot soup blender like the Vitamix in order to speed up the process and eliminate any stovetop cooking altogether. […]

Summer Dinner RecipesIt’s always a good idea to have a collection of good summer dinner recipes on hand for when the heat takes its toll and you don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen.

Whether planning on a simple dinner for two or entertaining a crowd, you want mouth-watering dishes that feature fresh summer fare and taste scrumptious.

All the better if they are simple to make or even allow for shortcuts, like a little cheating with store-bought ready-made ingredients to help save a step or two… […]

Refreshing Drinks for SummerThere’s nothing like a bevy of refreshing drinks to put the pep back in your step on a hot summer day.

If you’re entertaining, consider adding a little extra flair to dinner or even a backyard party: offer a selection of good summer drinks and watch the invigorating effects on your guests.

Playing host or hostess doesn’t have to break the bank either. Keep your drinks non alcoholic, or just add a little splash of alcohol. Better yet, play with herbal and fruity flavor pairings and create your own delightful combos. […]

Super Bowl Menu IdeasWho says you can’t hold a good party once the Holidays are over? And Super Bowl Sunday seems perfectly timed to celebrate. The trick is to plan ahead and get as much done as possible as early as you can.

First on the list is deciding what food you are going to be serving. Do you want a formal dinner with everyone gathered around the table, or a more casual seating arrangement? […]

Super Bowl Party Desserts

Chocolate Macaroons

1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut […]

Super Bowl Dips & Treats

Mango Guacamole

1/3 cup red onion, chopped
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 small jalapeño pepper (2 for added heat)
4 avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large mango, peeled, seeded and chopped […]

Super Bowl Meals

White Bean Soup

Ingredients (serves 8):
1 pound Great Northern beans
2 quarts water
2½ pounds ham hocks or shanks
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 cup yellow onions, diced
1 cup celery, chopped […]

Super Bowl DrinksThough beer first comes to mind when you think of game day drinks, you might want to get a little more fancy for a special occasion. The following Super Bowl drinks are sure not to let you down!

Cajun Lemonade

Ingredients (1 serving)
1 1/2 ounce vodka or light rum
1/2 ounce PIMM’S No. 1
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup […]

Healthy Winter Meals Made EasyGetting healthy winter meals on the table in time becomes increasingly challenging as days get shorter and shorter, and we struggle to accomplish more with shrinking energy. And with temperatures dropping, grilling outside is not attractive…

Heavier meals are also on the menu in order to help maintain body temperature and keep energy flowing. But cooking hearty food traditionally requires a considerable amount of elbow grease and plenty of cleanup. […]

Cranberry Tequila Margaritas

Cranberry Tequila MargaritasTraditionally considered a warm weather drink, margaritas have gained in popularity and are now enjoyed all year long. This holiday-friendly version simply requires a fun garnish to complement its appropriately seasonal splash of color.

Yield: 1 margarita
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes

3 oz tequila […]

Holiday Finger FoodsStill wondering what holiday party food to serve that will wow your guests? Fret no more: we’ve come up with yummy holiday finger foods that should inspire you to get in the kitchen and start cooking up a storm!

While it’s true that some recipes are easier than others, keep on the lookout for components like our orange-cranberry relish that can be made ahead of time.

Oh, and by the way, these recipes would make great Christmas party finger foods too! […]

A Toast to Pumpkin Drinks!It may surprise you to hear that next to apple, pumpkin drinks are some of the most popular fall alcoholic drinks.

Not entirely surprising, as they rely heavily on pumpkin spice spices, a winning combination of flavors which can be found in many seasonal comfort foods. […]

Fall apple drinksWhile fall automatically brings to mind apple cider, there are numerous other apple drinks you can make yourself in no time.

Enjoy the following recipes, from a simple harvest punch to all sorts of fall alcoholic drinks that are perfect for a fall dinner party. […]

Spicy Crockpot Cider

Spicy Crockpot CiderThis warm, spicy concoction is a delicious treat on a crisp autumn day. Take a minute or two to add the ingredients to your one pot cooker and before you know it, you’ll be serving up a special treat for everyone to enjoy.

Added bonus: your kitchen will be filled with the welcoming aroma of warm spices! […]

Thanksgiving leftoversWith Thanksgiving over and the mess cleaned up, you find yourself with a refrigerator full of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Sure, you can serve up the traditional holiday dinner once or twice, but by then, you’re ready for something different. The good news is that you won’t have to cook for a week or so. […]

Healthy Thanksgiving food ideasHave you been racking your brain trying to come up with healthy Thanksgiving food ideas with nothing to show for it?

Here are a few options to get you started so you can conjure up your own tweaks and make this holiday healthier for everyone. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild and create your own masterpieces. […]

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey DinnerIf you find yourself hosting your first family Thanksgiving meal this year, no doubt you’re feeling under pressure. No need to worry: a quick look at our Thanksgiving dinner recipes, and you’ll start decompressing.

Why? Because they’re full of time-tested tricks that enable you to accomplish the most with minimal effort – including three Thanksgiving casserole […]

Sausage-Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Sausage Stuffed MushroomsA guaranteed hit whether you’re hosting a lavish party or a simple lunch with the girls, but why not elevate dinner and surprise everyone with this super tasty appetizer?

For best results, select mushrooms with small to medium-sized caps. A mixture of baby Portobello and white mushrooms looks particularly attractive.

Just know that Portobello caps will add their own […]

Easy Cinnamon Apple Tarts

Easy Cinnamon Apple Tarts

1 pack frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pint heavy whipped cream […]