chocolate chunk granola bars

chocolate chunk granola bars

As I shuffle towards the finish line of this family-expansion project we began so long ago that it’s become a running joke* there are days when I honestly do not understand why human beings need to gestate beyond 37 weeks. I mean, pretty much the minute the doctor estimated this kid to be 6 pounds, I concluded “it’s cooked! It can come out now, right?” and imagined our 4th of July, baby snuggled in wrap, beer in one hand, medium-rare burger in the other and, lo, it sounded pretty grand to me. Because, of course, we know from experience that’s exactly what the first weeks of having a newborn look like. Fortunately, there are other days when I wake up and feel almost like a person who does not have feet in her rib cage, when by some miracle, I’m able to swim a mile, find some forgotten dress in my closet that actually fits with dignity, and cook things we can pass off as dinners, present and future, and this is one of those days so let’s frolic in it.

what you'll need

dry mix, with cherries and chocolate

In a few days, my son starts a day camp in which the kids are supposed to bring their own lunches — no, not even summer brings a reprieve from my favorite activity — and snacks. Snacks! Predictably, this has stressed me out because I neither want him to feel unloved for being the only kid without a package of some sort of candy/gummy/cookie monstrosity or some other unwholesome delight nor do I want him to develop a package-of-monstrosity-a-day habit. Ideally, I’d rather him eat something homemade where the ingredient list didn’t sound like a science project. Realistically, my best-laid plans will probably only take us through the first couple weeks, after which we’ll be too busy not to succumb to all the wonders of the packaged food world, but until then, I plan to give myself an A for effort. This is also a nut-free facility, a couple of his friends are gluten-free, another cannot have dairy, and all of these factors have collided to finally motivate me to update my go-to granola bars accordingly.

into the pan

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. |
permalink to chocolate chunk granola bars | 57 comments to date | see more: Chocolate, Dairy-Free, Freezer Friendly, Gluten-Free, Photo, Snack


Grilled Asparagus with Bacon and Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese (aka Bacon Jam Asparagus)

Grilled Asparagus with Bacon and Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese (aka Bacon Jam Asparagus)

Up next we have another great way to enjoy some asparagus, topped with a simple bacon jam and creamy crumbled goat cheese! Bacon jam is a super tasty 'jam' that is made primarily of, you guessed it, bacon along with caramelized onions and various other flavour packed ingredients! I was thinking that some sweet and salty bacon jam would go perfectly on crisp and tender but still juicy and smokey grilled asparagus! I did not have any bacon jam in the fridge at the time so I made a simple version with bacon, an onion, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce that tastes just as great as the original and takes a fraction of the time! This grilled asparagus with bacon and balsamic caramelized onions and goat cheese is a great way of enjoying some bacon, I mean asparagus, and it's sure to be the star of your summer meal!

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angelShe’s an angel.

UntitledShe has fun! Wheeeeee!

UntitledShe’s pensive.

working calves lake pens 031She’s sweet.

guitar hero 005She’s a guitar hero!


DSC_0008_3399Yes. Definitely goofy.

thedaysShe loves Charles!

TPW_8262She dresses up in her mom’s old dresses from high school.

Her mom can’t so much do that anymore.

alexcatShe’s a cat.

Wait. No she’s not.

alexbluesmall2She’s Alex!

mealex4And I’m so glad she’s my daughter.

Alex and CharlieShe’s a master at selfies.

sistersnapshot2She’s loves being a sister.

AlexIn some ways, she’s changed so much through the years…

BabyAlex3In other ways, she looks exactly the same as she’s always looked to me.

She has the same sweetness and wonderment in her eye.

AlexHappy birthday, Alex!

AlexYou’re my favorite 18-year-old in the universe.

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad – a delicious, healthy salad made with shrimp, avocado, tomato, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro. No cooking required and super EASY! Gluten-free, low-carb, whole30, clean eating, paleo and low calories.

Talk about a light and refreshing salad that requires no cooking! Lime juice and cilantro are the key ingredients to creating this wonderful, healthy salad you'll want to make all summer long. Made with cooked peeled shrimp and the freshest ingredients – avocados, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and chopped jalapeño tossed with some freshly squeezed lime juice and a touch of olive oil.

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad – a delicious, healthy salad made with shrimp, avocado, tomato, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro. No cooking required and super EASY! Gluten-free, low-carb, whole30, clean eating, paleo and low calories.

I'm remaking this from the archives for lunch today, so I took the opportunity to re-shoot this since the photos needed some updating. This is perfect to serve as an appetizer, or for a lunch or light meal. You can put this over a tostada to make it a little more substantial and you can easily adapt this to suit your taste by adding more or less cilantro, jalapeño etc. If you plan on making this ahead of time, you can combine all the ingredients except for the avocado and cilantro and keep this refrigerated, then add them just before serving. This easily doubles for a large crowd.

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad – a delicious, healthy salad made with shrimp, avocado, tomato, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro. No cooking required and super EASY! Gluten-free, low-carb, whole30, clean eating, paleo and low calories.

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Salsa

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Salsa

Please raise your hand if you saw this coming! 🙂 Although the strawberry salsa and the cilantro lime grilled chicken that I recently shared are amazing by themselves, they are even better together! It's really hard to beat a quick and easy meal consisting of a tasty grilled meat topped with a fresh fruit salsa and this one just screams summer! If you marinate the chicken and make the salsa the night before all you really need to do is head outside into the sunshine, fire up the grill and cook the chicken for a no fuss and no mess meal in the great outdoors, or just in your back yard, or on a balcony as the case may be. If you are looking for a nice way to celebrate the arrival of summer you can't go wrong with this cilantro lime grilled chicken with strawberry salsa!

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Smiles for Miles

Working CattleCute kid alert.

(I’m just warning you.)

Working CattleThis is Patrick, Cowboy Josh’s stepson. And it’s impossible to look at the little fella and not smile.

Go ahead! Try it!

Working CattleSmiling is his default expression. And it reminds me of that old greeting card saying, which, it turns out, was right on the money.

Working Cattle“Smile! It’s contagious!”

Working CattleMan. Is it ever!

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken

It's time for some summer grilling and up first I have some super easy and tasty cilantro and lime grilled chicken! The cilantro and lime flavour combo is such a simple one and yet it's so amazingly good! If you marinate the chicken the night before it's quick and easy since all you need to do is throw it on the grill giving you more time to spend on sides or with friends and family. This cilantro and lime grilled chicken is great all by itself or you could serve it topped with a sauce or salsa and make plenty of extras because it's also really nice in a salad for tomorrows lunch!

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herbed summer squash pasta bake

summer squash pasta bake

One of the things I’ve first-world struggled with since the beginning of this incubation period is a lack of appetite. Of course, there’s the glib side of me — great for managing weight gain! why “eat for two” if you can eat for half?! — but mostly, it’s a bummer. I thought that after the first trimester nausea passed, I’d be good to go and yes, I’m back to eating regular meals, but my enthusiasm has only returned in short bursts. Sure, I’ve shamelessly consumed all matter of crispy eggs with soy sauce, sesame oil and chile flakes (flipped only long enough to keep the food police at bay, or so I tell you). I will eat almost any green vegetable roasted to a blistering crisp with olive oil and salt and finished with lemon juice. Speaking of lemons, we go through homemade, barely sweet lemonade by the half-carafe. And some cravings are even fun; for example, “the baby wants ribs” was a text I sent out to friends a few weeks ago while led to a great deck party. But do you know when I sat down with my plate after an afternoon of carefully preparing three glorious racks of ribs, I could only eat one? It’s rather grim for a so-called food writer to go through life unmotivated by hunger and cravings, to have become a person who shrugs and says “Meh, whatever you want to eat is fine.” I don’t even know me.

zucca shape, which turns out to not mean zucchini

summer squash and zucchini

And so, with just a couple weeks to go and with the additional invader of final-stretch fatigue, rather than continuing to try to push myself to cook things I lose interest in halfway — a saffron-brothed couscous salad from last week is the latest victim — I’m instead shifting my focus to future meals. Because if there’s anything I remember from the baby-feeding side of things from last time, it’s that I was hungry enough that I honestly would have eaten the sofa if I was more convinced it would have gone down well with a couple shakes of hot sauce. I kind of can’t wait.

thinly sliced squash

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. |
permalink to herbed summer squash pasta bake | 44 comments to date | see more: Freezer Friendly, Italian, Pasta, Photo, Summer, Summer Squash, Vegetarian, Zucchini

Honey Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Vegetables

Honey Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Vegetables – Grilled chicken breast, zucchini, red peppers and asparagus topped with a honey balsamic dressing

Grilled chicken breast, zucchini, red peppers and asparagus topped with a honey balsamic dressing – this is SO good, I know you'll be making this all summer and nothing beats an easy summer dish made entirely on the grill so you don't have to heat up your kitchen!

I love cooking my vegetables on the grill in the summer. It doesn't take very long and the vegetables taste incredible when edges get all charred. The best way to do this is to purchase a grill pan (or two) or vegetable basket so the vegetables don't fall through the grates and just spritz the vegetables with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. They also sell disposable ones in the supermarket which also work fine.

I do most of the grilling myself when I'm home alone on my gas grill. It's really simple to do, so don't be intimated. Get to know your grill, mine cooks hotter towards the back so I keep that in mind when I'm grilling and move things around accordingly.

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Salsa

Up first for the summer season recipes is a quick and easy strawberry salsa! The stores are filled with local strawberries and what better way to enjoy them than nice and fresh, simply diced, in a salsa where they are the star of the show! This salsa could not be easier to make, you simply dice the strawberries along with some onion and jalapeno adding a kick of lime and cilantro before seasoning with a touch of salt. You can make the salsa as mild or hot as you like by controlling the amount of jalapenos in it. In addition to being great with tortilla chips you can also enjoy this strawberry salsa on grilled fish or chicken or in tacos, etc. What a great way to kick off summer!

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