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Roasted Summer Vegetable and Rice Casserole with Chicken

Roasted Summer Vegetable and Rice Casserole

Casseroles and I have had a long relationship with a lot of ups and downs. I grew up loving them, and they were a part of every family gathering I ever attended. I’m guessing anyone that grew up in the deep south would say the same. Squash was always eaten with cheese and crushed Ritz crackers. Hash browns? Those had cheese, too. Basically, if it was a casserole, it involved some type of vegetable smothered in something creamy and/or cheesy. You know, anything to negate the vegetable-ness of it.

As I got older, casseroles started to kind of gross me out. Too many similar textures and not enough flavor. I didn’t eat them for a long time, but then I got turned on to them again, thanks to some awesome recipes that showed me it’s possible to have casseroles with loads of flavor and texture.

Roasted Summer Vegetable and Rice Casserole

This casserole takes advantage of the abundance of produce available during summer – some of my favorites like corn, zucchini and tomatoes. The vegetables are roasted to bring out all their flavor, then they’re mixed with rice and chicken before being baked. This recipe calls for cottage cheese to make the sauce that holds the casserole together, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan of cottage cheese. I certainly am not, but it works well in this recipe. If you want to make this vegetarian, simply leave out the chicken. It works great as a vegetarian main dish or even as a side to something else.

Roasted Summer Vegetable and Rice Casserole

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Grilled Pork Skewers with Grilled Tomato Relish

Grilled Pork Skewers with Grilled Tomato Relish

A few months ago, we got to spend the night with my friend Josie. We were on our way home from Alabama and stopped at her house for the evening. I was obviously thrilled about being able to hang out in the kitchen again with one of my best friends. Josie picked this recipe, and we all loved it. Eric and I have made it a couple times since then, and it’s a hit every time. Of course, whenever we make this, I think of Josie and her awesome family and how much fun we all had together – the two of us cooking, Eric and Joey talking about craft beer and playing outside with all the kids. It was one of those perfect moments, where everything just felt right. I love how food can create memories like that, and I only wish we lived closer together so that we could make them more often!

This recipe calls for a cut of meat I had never used before – country-style pork ribs. They’re tender and quick cooking, which means you can get this meal on the table faster than you might think. The meat is marinated with a fragrant spice mixture before being grilled, and it comes off the grill moist and delicious. Some of the marinade is mixed with honey and butter to create a sauce for the tomato relish, which, combined with the juice of grilled lemons, makes the relish bright and flavorful. Simply put, this recipe is an all-around winner. There’s still plenty of summer left, so make the most of it and enjoy this meal before tomatoes are out of season.

Grilled Pork Skewers with Grilled Tomato Relish

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Buckeye Ice Cream

Buckeye Ice Cream

Next to coffee and chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate is my favorite dessert pairing. Reese’s Cups were practically the only chocolate I would eat growing up, and I only liked them cold. Actually, I still only eat them cold. I guess some habits never change. When peanut butter and chocolate combine into ice cream, which is always my dessert of choice, you can bet I’m all over it.

I have a peanut butter ice cream that I adore, but I’m never one to turn down trying new recipes. Plus, this ice cream is different because it uses honey, and those two tablespoons of honey make such a big difference in the final product. This really is the ice cream version of a buckeye candy, no doubt about it. If the peanut butter and honey ice cream wasn’t good enough on its own, melted chocolate gets mixed in just before the ice cream finishes churning, creating wonderful flecks of chocolate all throughout the ice cream. This is easily my favorite ice cream making technique, and I’ve used it on mint and pistachio ice creams with fantastic results. If peanut butter and chocolate is your thing, you will love this ice cream. That’s a promise.

Buckeye Ice Cream

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Salsa Borracha (Drunken Salsa)

Salsa Borracha

My obsession with tomatoes peaks this time of year, thanks to all the wonderful varieties of heirloom tomatoes available. I can’t resist all the bright, gorgeous colors and find myself grabbing loads of tomatoes whenever we hit the farmers market. We’ve also got three tomato plants in our backyard, so it’s safe to say we’ve been eating a lot of tomatoes recently (see here, here and here).

Virginia heirloom tomatoes

I didn’t have salsa in mind for these tomatoes when we bought them. I already have two salsa recipes that I love, and I thought I’d do something, I don’t know, fancier with them. When I found this recipe, though, I knew I had to make it. The orange color was enough to draw me in, and adding beer and tequila was something I’d never done to salsa before. I mean, does cooking tomatoes in beer not sound like a fantastic idea to you? After it’s cooked and blended, you get a salsa that has the bright flavor of tomatoes and punch from the tequila. It’s a unique flavor and one I won’t soon be forgetting.

Salsa Borracha

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BLT Pizza

BLT Pizza

Pizza shows up regularly on our weekly menus. It’s versatile, fun to make, and we almost always have a ball of homemade pizza dough in the freezer. Clara loves helping us in the kitchen, and pizza is most definitely her favorite meal to make. Sure, we end up with flour and/or cheese all over the floor and whatever chair she’s standing in, but having her help us cook is one of our greatest joys. When she’s not sneaking handfuls of cheese from the cutting board, she loves to pat the dough and layer on the toppings.

With summer in full swing and a garden full of tomatoes, this BLT pizza got added to my must-make list as soon as I saw it. While this isn’t a sauceless pizza, it’s close. The sauce is made with (gasp!) mayonnaise, but please don’t let that deter you. It’s mixed with garlic and herbs, so call it an aioli if it makes you feel better about spreading it onto a pizza. The reason I say the pizza is basically sauceless is because the dough absorbs most of the mayonnaise mixture, leaving behind just a hint of the creaminess of it but with all the flavors of the garlic and herbs.

I’m obsessed with roasted tomatoes, and they are certainly the star of this pizza. Though, if you were to ask Clara, she would say it’s the bacon. A small sprinkling of cheese and a generous sprinkling of greens make this pizza feel relatively light, especially in terms of pizza, and it’s the perfect meal for dining al fresco, which is what we did both times we’ve made this. With our Sungold tomato plant producing tomatoes like crazy, this pizza will be making many more appearances before summer is over.

BLT Pizza

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