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Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Espresso Shortbread Cookies

Two of our dear friends are getting married next month, and I hosted a shower for the bride recently. She is an English teacher and a book lover, so naturally I had to incorporate books, specifically Pride and Prejudice, into the shower. I made a table runner out of book pages, and I used book pages and card stock in the wedding colors to make labels for the food. I also made book page banner (I picked out some of the best scenes, obviously) and hung it with twine. And though I know carnations and baby’s breath are no peonies or hydrangeas, I kind of loved them for this shower.

bridal shower flowers

This was my first time hosting a bridal shower, but I treated it the same as any other party – make as much food as possible in advance, have foods that are easy for people to eat while standing and chatting, and provide edible favors for the guests. These cookies were one of two kinds I included in glassine bags, and I loved the way they turned out. Instead of cutting the cookies into squares, I decided to make them heart shaped. And then I went a step further and dipped them in chocolate. Because, really, who doesn’t love a cookie that’s been dipped in chocolate? You guys know I am coffee obsessed, so any dessert that has espresso, especially when combined with chocolate, is always a winner to me. The espresso flavor in these is strong, and they have just the right amount of sweetness to balance it.

bridal shower decorations

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Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Pizza is on the menu pretty regularly in our house. Clara loves helping me prep the pizza dough, and she loves helping us top it even more. One of my very favorite things is having her help in the kitchen, even if it does mean shredding extra cheese for pizza making (because a few handfuls always end up in her mouth while we’re sprinkling it on top).

Sauceless pizzas have always been hit or miss for me. Some I love; others I feel pretty meh about. This pizza obviously falls into the first category. The dough is brushed with olive oil and topped with parmesan and mozzarella. Shaved asparagus is punched up with garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper before being scattered on top of the cheese, and then the whole thing is topped with green onions and lemon juice as soon as it comes out of the oven. It’s the lightest feeling pizza we’ve made, making it perfect for warm weather.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

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Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Nut Crust

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Crust

There’s something about a good pie that makes me so happy. I guess because I don’t make them very often, they hold special occasion status for me. As much as I’d like to have a pie in my fridge all the time, I only make them when I know I’ll be serving a group of people. It’s totally because I don’t have enough willpower to stop myself from eating one straight out of the plate.

This key lime pie isn’t traditional, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. The filling is no-bake, which means minimal oven time while the crust bakes. I don’t know about you, but I love that in the summertime. The filling is reminiscent of one of my favorite cupcakes from the shop where I worked before Clara was born, and I find this pie every bit addictive as that cupcake. My favorite part, though, is the macadamia nut and shortbread crust. Graham crackers are just fine, but this crust is one you’ll want to eat before there’s even any filling inside of it. The texture of the crushed macadamias is a perfect contrast to the creamy, sweet-tart filling. As we gear up for more cookouts, I know I’ll be turning to this dessert over and over again.

If a whole pie isn’t your thing, these key lime pie bars are pretty high on my list of favorite summer desserts, too.

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Crust

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Bacon Roasted Chickpeas

Bacon Roasted Chickpeas

Our summer is usually filled with cookouts, pool parties and birthday parties. This summer is especially celebratory with weddings and some big 30th birthdays coming up (Eric’s included). When we host or attend cookouts, I like to have some kind of snack on hand for people to munch on while food is on the grill. Enter these crunchy, bacon roasted chickpeas.

If there’s a way to make snack food better, it’s by adding bacon. These chickpeas are addictive little bites that you can grab by the handful and pop in your mouth, and the bacon makes them even more flavorful. Meant to be a pub or bar snack, they work equally as well for outdoor gatherings because they don’t wilt/melt/otherwise get gross sitting in the heat. The key to getting them crunchy is to dry the chickpeas really well before roasting. The chickpeas roast in the bacon fat, giving each bite a hint of smoky bacon flavor. They’re good with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, but the Old Bay adds a bit of a kick that really takes them over the top.

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Grilled Chicken with Creamy Green Chile, Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Creamy Green Chile, Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce

Summer is synonymous with grilling, and we’ve been doing quite a bit of it the past several weeks. Hamburgers are my go-to summer weekend dinner, but this grilled chicken recently made an appearance on our menu and was a huge hit. It’s quick enough that you can fire the grill up on a weekday and have this dinner done in practically no time.

The sauce is the real star of this dish. Made of grilled/broiled tomatillos and peppers, it’s got a smoky flavor with just a hint of spice. The avocado and Greek yogurt cool it off enough to consider it kid-friendly. We only made enough chicken breasts to feed the three of us (which meant a small one for Clara), so we had leftover sauce which I enjoyed with tortilla chips the next day. I also think this would be fab over scrambled eggs or on top of steak. The sauce was so delicious that I ate a spoonful of it while I was putting away the leftovers. No shame. If you’re looking for a way to spice up chicken, this sauce is definitely the way to go.

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