#BundtBakers: Cheese Steak Bundt

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For the past couple of months, I've tried to participate in #BundtBakers, but my recipes have just not turned out and I didn't leave myself enough time to find a new one to make.

Finally, for the July theme of unusual bundts, I've managed to get a recipe that not only worked and turned out right the first time, but tasted great! I could easily eat this once a week. If I took out the green peppers and onions, Tom likely could too. 😊



#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.




Our host for this month is Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Despite a Whiskered Accomplice. I cracked up the first time I read the name of her blog, considering I have two of my own whiskered accomplices. Luckily, mine aren't nearly as involved in my recipe making as her Bengal, Brenna.



The recipe I chose for my unusual bundt was a cheese steak. Thinly shredded beef, cheese, bell peppers and onions all baked up inside of a pizza style dough. Yum!



Cheesesteak Bundt
Source: Cookaholic wife Creation
Servings:4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 package thin-crust refrigerated pizza dough, or homemade
    • 12 oz. thinly shredded beef
    • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 4 slices provolone cheese
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 tbsp melted butter
    • 1 tbsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the thinly sliced beef and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the bell peppers and onions to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened. (If there is not enough fat from the beef to cook them without sticking, add 1 teaspoon oil.)
4. Return the meat to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese on top and stir until melted in.
5. Roll out pizza dough into a 9x13 rectangle. Place two slices of provolone cheese on the dough at the long end. Spread the beef mixture on top and then top with the 2 remaining slices of cheese.
6. Starting from the long end, roll up the pizza dough into a log and then fold into a circle, tucking the ends in on each other.
7. Carefully place into the prepared baking pan. Brush with melted butter then sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning on top. (If using homemade pizza dough, all dough to rest 20 minutes before baking.)
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and the dough is cooked through. Slice into servings and enjoy! 



You could easily serve this along with a marinara dipping sauce to make it more pizza-like.









And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

  • Bacon, Zucchini, Raisins and Cheddar Bundt Cake from I Love Bundt Cakes
  • Cheesesteak Bundt from Cookaholic Wife
  • Cherry Bundt Breakfast Danish from Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
  • Chicken Fajita Bundt Cake from Sew You Think You Can Cook
  • Chive Potato Filled Cheeseburger Meatloaf Bundt from Food Lust People Love
  • Classic Vanilla Flan Bundt from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
  • Pasta Chicken Bundt from Sneha's Recipe
  • Soap Bundt Cake from La Mejor Manera
  • Spinach Pasta Surprise from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Improv Cooking Challenge: Balsamic Berry Crostini

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    Many, many years ago I found out that putting balsamic vinegar on berries brought out their sweetness. It was something I initially would have never believed or tried, but I'm so glad that I did. I love how the tart vinegar pairs with the sweet berries and while I don't use the combination often, I still enjoy it from time to time.





    The theme for July's Improv Cooking Challenge is balsamic and berries, which really leaves a wide variety of recipes to make. I opted to keep it pretty simple this month and use all fresh ingredients in a dish that can be whipped up quickly. No baking, no fuss and very little mess. Perfect for if you need an appetizer for a last minute party or gathering.


    Balsamic Berry Crostini
    Source: Cookaholic wife Creation
    Servings:16-20
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 1 loaf french bread or other thin bread
      • ½ cup cream cheese, softened
      • 2 tbsp sugar
      • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
      • 16-20 blueberries
      • ⅛ cup balsamic reduction*
      • optional: mint leaves

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Slice the french bread into rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until just lightly toasted. 

    3. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until combined. Spread onto the bread rounds.
    4. Top with 1-2 strawberry slices, a blueberry and optional mint leaf.
    5. Drizzle balsamic reduction on top. Serve immediately.


    *To make a balsamic reduction: Combine 1 cup balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup. * This recipe makes more than used above. Extra can be kept in the fridge for a few days. 




    I was running out of daylight to photograph this recipe and ended up rushing my balsamic reduction which is why it doesn't look very pretty. It could have thickened up a lot more but I needed daylight, so I used it before it was really thick enough. Just remember to give yourself enough time! 


    If you are a fan of goat cheese this could easily replace the cream cheese and sugar mixture that was spread onto the crostini.



    This is the perfect combination of light, sweet, and tart. I could easily eat a plate of these all by myself!

    Check out what the other Improv Cooking Challenge bloggers have made!



    Patriotic Berry Slab Pie

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    One of my cousins lives on the Eastern Shore in Maryland has a tradition of hosting a cookout in the beginning of July. This was the first year we've been able to go. I knew I wanted to bring a dessert that was fitting for the fourth of July holiday and also large enough to feed a crowd.

    Insert the idea of a slab pie. First off, these are genius. You make a pie on a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan so it's thinner, cooks faster and feeds a ton of people. I first made an apple version of one last Thanksgiving and considering our guest list for the holiday continues to increase, I think it's going to become a yearly staple.



    I really liked this version of the pie because it requires minimal baking. It's actually pretty similar to fruit pizza if you've ever made one of those before. But why am I sharing it with you on July 7th, three days after the holiday?

    Now that's a story. We came home on Sunday and I planned to get the recipe shared with you on Monday. Except, Comcast had other ideas. The weekend before we had a service call because we had terrible internet connection and couldn't watch anything OnDemand in the evenings without it looking like when you flipped to a channel you didn't get back in the 90's. That tech determined our initial installation was done poorly and added an amplifier, but more importantly informed us that our underground line had a ton of noise in it likely because it was the original installed when the owner's got cable a couple of decades ago. We were told we'd have service, albeit not great, through the replacement of the line.

    Upon arriving home Sunday, there was nada No internet, no cable, no phone. I called in and they pretty much told me they couldn't help me because they needed an update from the dig crew who hadn't contacted either of us since the prior Thursday. I'm told that I'll get a call by Monday afternoon. Of course that came and went so I called in again and the rep was really apologetic, scheduling a tech to come out on the holiday to give us a temporary line so we'd have service.

    That evening I came home and found the red tube was next to the house, what we had been told meant the work was done. Except, still no service. So I kept the appointment and on Tuesday, the tech shows up and spends all of 30 seconds outside. The crew that installed the new line? Yeah, they didn't hook up the service properly. One switch of connecting cables and boom, cable, internet and phone were back.

    Who ever said owning a home was fun? Anyway, now that you know the reason why I couldn't share this with you before the holiday, let's get onto the recipe. It's not like you couldn't make it for Labor Day...


    Patriotic Berry Slab Pie
    Adapted from: Pillsbury
    Servings:24 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 3 refrigerated pie crusts, at room temperature
      • 2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
      • 12 oz. lemon curd or lemon pie filling
      • 2 - 2 ½ cups strawberries, sliced
      • 1 cup blueberries
      • 1 cup raspberries
      • 1 cup blackberries
      • sanding sugar
      • 1 egg

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a half sheet pan and a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Roll out two of the pie crusts to cover the half sheet pan. Prick with a fork to stop from rising too much. Beat the egg with 1 tbsp of water and brush lightly over the dough. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden.
    3. Roll out the remaining pie crust and cut out star shapes with a cookie cutter. Place on the baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar on top. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden.
    4. Beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the lemon curd and mix until combined.
    5. Allow the bottom of the pie to cool, then spread the cream cheese mixture on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    6. Arrange the strawberries in rows, filling in between each row with blueberries. Fill in any gaps with raspberries and blackberries. Press the cut out stars randomly on top of the fruit.
    7. Refrigerate, covered,  until ready to serve.




    Since you only cook the crust and the topping, this pie can come together in less than an hour, depending on how long it takes you to cut up the fruit and cut out all of the stars. The crust is nice and flaky, the filling not too sweet and the berries being raw gives it the perfect amount of texture without soupiness that sometimes happens with cooked fruit pies.




    You can make the cream cheese mixture in advance, refrigerating it and then allowing it to come to room temperature to easily spread on the crust. The star cut outs can also be made 1 day in advance, being transferred to a sealable container once cooled. 


    #FilltheCookieJar: Monster Reese's Pieces Cookie Bars

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    July's theme for #FilltheCookieJar is back to school. I swear the kids only got out a few weeks ago and traffic has just started to die down, but there are already back-to-school ads for clothing and school supplies, so I suppose we're really just right on time to share a recipe like this.

    #FilltheCookieJar is a blogging event hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big.



    I thought back to school to figure out what type of cookie or bar I could make for this challenge. In 9th grade, eating lunch from home or the cafeteria wasn't cool, but eating from the vending machines was. So for longer than I care to admit, I'd spend $3 a day to get a bag of Cooler Ranch Doritos, a cherry Coke and a box of Reeses Pieces. The epitome of health, wasn't I? 😉

    While a cookie or bar using Doritos or Coke might have been more creative, I decided to stick with good old candy and find a recipe that used Reese's Pieces.



    Monster Reese’s Pieces Cookie Bars
    Source: Passion for Savings
    Servings:16 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 tbsp vanilla
      • 2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
      • ½ tsp salt
      • 6 oz. Reese’s Pieces candy
      • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together brown sugar, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until combined.
    3. Add in the baking mix and salt, mixing until combined, then add in the Reese’s Pieces and mini chocolate chips. The mix will be very thick, you may need to mix in by hand.
    4. Spread into the prepared baking dish in an even layer.
    5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center is set.
    6. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.



    I may have accidentally purchased too many boxes of the Reese's Pieces for this recipe. Yeah, accidentally. I quite enjoyed munching on them while these cookie bars were in the oven.

    These bars come together in no time and are the perfect treat for after school or any time of the year. My coworkers devoured them in less than an hour. 





    Check out what the other #FilltheCookieJar bloggers made!



     Giant Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies by Family Around the Table
      No Bake Brownie Energy Bites by Join Us, Pull up a Chair
      Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies by Jolene's Recipe Journal
      Teachers Rule Cookies By Palatable Pastime
      Clean the Cupboard Cookie Bars by A Day In The Life On The Farm
     Trail Mix Cookies by Home Sweet Homestead 
      Orange Anise Cookies By This and That
      Monster Reese's Pieces Cookie Bars by Cookaholic Wife
      Oatmeal Blueberry Cookies by Organized 31
      Apple Date Cookie Bars by That Recipe 
      Cherry Pie Tassies by Cindy's Recipes and Writings 
      Sesame Balls by Feeding Big

    #CookoutWeek: Berry Icebox Cake

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    It's super surprising to me that I'd spent my entire life never having an icebox cake. My mom definitely wasn't a fan of baking so this recipe would have been right up her alley, but I suppose she never knew about it as the first time I saw a recipe for an icebox cake, my reaction was "what in the world is that?"


    #CookoutWeek_Logo2

    In case you also currently reside under the rock I was under, an icebox cake is a dessert made with graham crackers and whipped cream. Pudding or cream cheese is optional and mixed in with the whipped cream. As the "cake" rests in the fridge, the mixture seeps into the graham crackers softening them into a crust of sorts. I mean, really, how easy is that? The hardest part is remaining patient while the cake is in the fridge.




    Berry Icebox Cake
    Source: Cake’s Cottage
    Servings:12-16 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
      • 2 3.4 oz. packages instant vanilla pudding
      • 2 ½ cups milk
      • 12 oz. Cool Whip, lightly thawed
      • 1 box graham crackers
      • 2 lbs strawberries, thinly sliced
      • 1 pint blueberries

    Directions:

    1. Add cream cheese and both packets of instant vanilla pudding to the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until combined. Slowly add in the milk until combined.
    2. Add all but ½ cup of the cool whip to the mixer, mixing until just combined.
    3. Use the remaining ½ cup of the cool whip to spread in an even layer on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
    4. Arrange graham crackers over the cool whip, breaking the crackers as needed to fit the shape of the baking dish.
    5. Top with a generous layer of the pudding mixture, followed by the strawberries and blueberries.
    6. Repeat with 2 more layers until the top of the baking dish is reached. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but up to overnight.
    7. Slice cake into squares and serve immediately. Cake will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge but is best eaten within 24 hours of making.




    Do you have a meal or dessert that you didn't learn about until much later in life?




    Don't forget to enter the giveaway!



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    #CookoutWeek: Bahn Mi Hot Dogs

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    #CookoutWeek is here again! I had such a great time participating in the event last year that I knew I wanted to join up this year.

    As a kid, I used to eat plain hot dogs cold, a concept that as an adult makes me shudder. Ick. I'm still not a fan of them on a bun because I feel like the bread to meat ratio is never properly met and I do enjoy them served with less common toppings. Mustard will do if there isn't anything else, but I'll pass on the ketchup, relish and onions.



    I like the more unusual toppings and when I saw a recipe using bahn mi ingredients on a hot dog, I immediately knew I needed to try it.

    #CookoutWeek_Logo2

    Standard bahn mi ingredients are pickled carrots, cucumber slices, fresh cilantro and sliced jalapenos. I prefer to pickle the jalapeno as well, which I did for this recipe.



    Bahn Mi Hot Dog
    Inspired by: multiple Pinterest images
    Servings: 8 hot dogs
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 1 package (8) hot dogs of your choice
      • 1 package (8) hot dog buns
      • ¼ cup mayonnaise
      • 2-4 tbsp. Sriracha, to taste
      • ¼ cup matchstick carrots
      • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
      • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
      • 2 tbsp water
      • 1 tsp sugar
      • ¼ cup cucumber, thinly sliced
      • fresh cilantro, chopped

    Directions:
    1. Heat a grill to medium high heat.
    2. While the grill is heating, combine mayonnaise and sriracha together to your desired level of spiciness and refrigerate until ready to use.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water and sugar. Add carrots and jalapeno slices and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
    4. Grill hot dogs for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
    5. Add cilantro and cucumber to the bun. Place the hot dog in the center and top with the pickled carrots and jalapenos.
    6. Drizzle sriracha mayo on top and enjoy.




    What is your favorite way to dress a hot dog?



    Don't forget to enter the giveaway!
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    #CookoutWeek: Welcome

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    #CookoutWeek_Logo2


     Get those grills fired up... because it's #CookoutWeek 2017! This week, I'm joining forces with over 40 food blogger friends to bring you delicious recipes perfect for every backyard BBQ, picnic, summer party, or cookout. We also have a fabulous giveaway featuring products from the brands who have made #CookoutWeek possible! You can enter below to win:
    • From blog host The PinterTest Kitchen: $100 Amazon gift card, to use to buy all the supplies you need for your next cookout
    • From our sponsor The French Farm: A gift pack of gourmet products hand-crafted by small businesses and using only the finest ingredients - La Favorita Genovese Pesto, Caprichos del Guadalquivir Cadenera Orange Marmalade, and L’Abeille Occitane Lavender Honey
    • From our sponsor Smokin'-Os: A sampler pack of their "smokin'-os" wood rings, to help you add wood-fired, smokey taste to your grilled foods, even if you don't own a smoker
    • From our sponsor Primal Kitchen: $200 of Primal Kitchen goodies, including condiments made with avocado oil and bars and shakes with grass-fed collagen
    • From our sponsor Langers Juice Company: Your choice of 10 bottles of Langers Juice, with flavors including traditional Apple and Grape, as well as interesting mixes such as Pineapple Orange Coconut, Cranberry Blood Orange, and Mango Peach
    • From our sponsor True Made Foods: A 3-bottle sampler pack of sauces with real flavors made from real vegetables and less sugar - Ketchup, BBQ, and Veracha
    This prize pack has an ARV of over $400! You have until July 1 at 11:59 PM to enter by following our sponsors and bloggers on social media: a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Stay tuned... remember, throughout the week, all of the participating bloggers will be posting delicious cookout recipes.

    Here are all the bloggers who are part of #CookoutWeek 2017: 
    2 Cookin Mamas
    A Day in the Life on the Farm
    A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
    Amy's Cooking Adventures
    Ashees Cookbook
    Baking Sense
    Body Rebooted
    Bottom Left of the Mitten
    Chef Sarah Elizabeth
    Cook's Hideout
    Cookaholic Wife
    Cooking with Sapana
    Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!
    Fairyburger
    Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
    Family Around the Table
    Fix Me a Little Lunch
    For the Love of Food
    Full Belly Sisters
    Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
    Home Sweet Homestead
    Join Us, Pull up a Chair
    Kate's Recipe Box
    Kelly Lynn's Sweets and Treats
    Little House Big Alaska
    My Southern Sweet Tooth
    Our Good Life
    Oven Tales By Syama
    Palatable Pastime
    Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
    Savory Moments
    Seduction in the Kitchen
    Sidewalk Shoes
    That Recipe
    The Freshman Cook
    The Mad Scientists Kitchen
    The Pajama Chef
    The Redhead Baker
    The Saucy Southerner
    The Spiffy Cookie
    The Weekday Gourmet
    Tramplingrose
    Turnips 2 Tangerines
    Uncle Jerry's Kitchen 

     As one of the bonus entries in the giveaway, leave a comment on this blog post... what is your favorite dish to eat at a cookout?



    Improv Cooking Challenge: Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese

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    I feel like no matter how old you are, you simply can't go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich, which is why I decided to make one for the Improv Cooking Challenge this month. The two ingredients were jalapenos and cheese.



    Which are also two of my favorite pairings. Needless to say, I've been pretty excited for this ingredient combination for quite some time now. There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of recipes that I could making using the two ingredients, but I got the idea to go sweet and spicy. And the idea to add strawberry jam and jalapenos to a classic grilled cheese sandwich was born.



    Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese
    Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
    Servings: 2 sandwiches
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 4 slices bread of your choice (I used potato)
      • 2 tbsp strawberry jam (or other fruit flavor)
      • 1 tbsp butter, softened
      • 6 slices cheese of your choice (I used American and Provolone)
      • ¼ cup pickled jalapeno slices
    Directions:
    1. Divide strawberry jam and spread onto one side of each of the four slices of bread.
    2. Layer two slices of cheese of your choice, followed by half of the pickled jalapenos. On the other half of the bread, place one slice of cheese and place on top of the other, creating a sandwich.
    3. Repeat with the remaining sandwich, then divide the softened butter, spreading it on both outside pieces of each sandwich.
    4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip each sandwich over to cook the other side.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the skillet, allowing steam to finish melting the cheese. After two minutes, check the sandwich for doneness, cooking another minute or so until the cheese has melted and both sides of the bread are golden brown.
    6. Slice in half and serve immediately.






    Whatever expectations you may have when hearing about a sweet and spicy grilled cheese, this sandwich meets. There is this faint hint of sweetness from the jam, a kick of spice from the jalapenos and the wonderful flavor of bread, toasted with butter. And the cheese of course, but  I'll leave it up to you to decide which cheeses you'd like to use.

    If you're interested in participating in the Improv Cooking Challenge, read more about it on my page or check out our Facebook group. We post on the second Thursday of every month and ingredients are paired together at the beginning of the year to give bloggers tons of time to try our recipes and decide what they will make. 



    Summertime Pasta Salad

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    There are a lot of condiments and foods that I love and Tom won't come anywhere near them. One of the items on that list is cold pasta salad. He will eat cooked pasta. He will eat veggies pureed into a sauce, but he will not eat cold veggies (or even pepperoni) with cold pasta and a dressing.

    Cold pasta salads are great in the summer. Aside from cooking the noodles, you don't need to turn on the stove or oven, making your house any hotter than it needs to be. Plus, they last for nearly a week when stored in the fridge. Talk about an easy side dish!



    Anyway, since I know that my family likes cold pasta salads and they were coming up to visit a few weekends ago, I immediately added one to my menu.

    Ah, sweet cold perfection! I love the crispness of the veggies, the flavor of the dressing and who can go wrong with pasta?



    Summertime Pasta Salad
    Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
    Servings: 2 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 2 cups pasta, cooked and drained
      • 1 cup asparagus, chopped into 2-inch pieces
      • 1 cup broccoli florets
      • 1 cup mini bell peppers, chopped
      • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
      • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
      • ¼ cup Italian dressing
      • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
      • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
      • salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions:
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Rinse pasta and set aside.
    2. Return the reserved cooking liquid back to the pot over medium heat until simmering. Add the asparagus and broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just tender crisp.
    3. Meanwhile, add cold water and ice to a medium bowl. Transfer the broccoli and asparagus to the bowl to stop from cooking.
    4. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, asparagus, broccoli and other raw veggies. Toss to combine.
    5. Pour dressing on top. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    This recipe will keep in the the fridge for up to 5 days.




    I made two versions of this dish, first one that used tri-color rotini pasta and standard Italian dressing for when my family came to visit. There were no leftovers, which was okay because I wanted to make a version approved for the Fast Metabolism Diet. 


    FMD Changes: use brown rice pasta, replace asparagus with another P1 compliant veggies and use an oil-free dressing such as Jacob's Raw, Simply Girl or one from the books. This recipe will make 2 servings for 20 pounds or less. Protein will need to be added for dinner, protein and fruit for lunch. 


    #FillTheCookieJar: Red, White and Blue Cookies

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    How in the world is it June first? I feel like barely a week has passed since I came back from the cruise at the end of March. I supposed closing on a house, moving into it and then my husband working and traveling for nearly the entire of month of May will do that...



    Fill the Cookie Jar is a blogging event hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big. June's theme was "summer". With the first holiday weekend that typically kicks off the start of summer just behind us, I decided to go that route with my cookies.

    These cookies come together so quickly. You don't need to worry about softening butter or a ton of ingredients. Instead these are made using cake batter which results in a light as air fluffy cookie.




    Red, White and Blue Cookies
    Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
    Servings:3 dozen
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 1 box white cake mix
      • 2 eggs
      • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
      • ¼ cup vegetable oil
      • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
      • red food coloring
      • blue food coloring

    Directions:
    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the powdered cake mix, eggs, applesauce and vegetable oil. Mix on medium speed until combined.
    2. Divide batter evenly into three bowls. Add red food coloring to one bowl and mix until you reach the desired color you want.
    3. Add blue food coloring to another bowl and mix until you reach the desired color you want. Refrigerate each bowl for 30 minutes.
    4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    5. Drop tablespoon sized dollops of batter into the powdered sugar and roll to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Repeat with each color.
    6. Bake for 9 minutes or until centers are set. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 





    You could use all applesauce or all vegetable oil in this recipe if that's what you have on hand. 


    These cookies are so light and fluffy they are very similar to the texture of angel food cake. 




    Make sure you take some time to see what the other home bakers have been creating!
      S'mores Sandwich Cookies by Jolene's Recipe Journal
      Pink Lemonade Cookies by Palatable Pastime
      Lemon Bars by A Day In The Life on the Farm
      Double Strawberry Hazelnut Cookies by Cindy's Recipes and Writings
     Red, White and Blue Cookies by Cookaholic Wife 
      Basil Lime Cookies by Join Us, Pull Up a Chair 
      Orange Drop Cookies by Big Rigs n' Lil' Cookies

    10 Things I've Learned After 60 Days of Being a Homeowner

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    On March 31st Tom and I signed our names a bunch of times and eventually were handed over some keys because we crazily decided to buy the second house that we looked at.

    We spent the first weekend doing a couple of projects and moving in a lot of our stuff and finished up the second weekend with the rest of our furniture. And crazy person that I am, we hosted Easter dinner the following Saturday.

    They say that buying a house is one project after another. I thought that was for like, fixer upper houses, not ones where the contractor has completely remodeled the house and it's essentially move in ready. House 1, Nichole 0.

    Coming from living at home and then living in apartments for 8+ years where other people are responsible for problems, this has not been an easy road for me. Before we officially turned in the keys to the apartment complex, I seriously debated going back there and refusing to leave. It was a very trying weekend, don't judge me.

    I believe I've reached a point where this stuff is now funny or at least amusing because we've gotten through it, so I thought I'd share with you some of the things we experienced. And please, feel free to laugh at us if you've owned a home for years and knew all of this. We're still painfully naive.

    I've taken a lot of before and after pictures so eventually I'll chronicle some of our updates, but for now let's just share the issues we've encountered, starting from the first day.

    1. Paint: Those commercials that claim to sell one-coat paint? You know the one where the guy has the artwork back on the walls the same day? I call serious bullshit on that. We painted an accent wall. Dark aqua over generic beige. It took three coats and an entire day to dry.

    I painted the laundry room a light blue color. Another claim for 1 coat paint from another brand. It took 2 coats, which is better than 3 so at least we know which paint company to go with when we paint the rest of the house.



    2. Sliding Glass Doors: whoever thought it was a great idea to sell screens separately to get you for more money is a complete asshole. Especially when the name of the door brand is not anywhere visible on the door and the contractor doesn't remember. So despite measuring three times, you buy and return three generic screens that are meant to fit "all sliding glass doors". You know, except ours. Tom eventually made it work by removing the spring from the top and bottom and now if you barely touch it, it shoots off down the track faster than a horse at the Kentucky Derby. Whatever...

    3. Mailboxes are the devil. Never assume that just because a house has a mailbox means that it was properly installed. Our mailbox adventures went as follows:
    • Determine mailbox is rusted shut. Purchase replacement mailbox to sit on existing post. 
    • Find out someone stripped the screws in the plastic piece the attaches the mailbox to the post and that the plastic piece needs to be replaced. 
    • Find out the plastic piece is not sold individually and only comes with the post. (Of course)
    • Purchase a new post, making the total cost of the mailbox and the post more than if it had been purchased as one piece. 
    • Remove old post only to find that the 4x4 that the post is supposed to sit over, doesn't actually exist so you still cannot have a mailbox despite filling out a change of address. 
    • Wait one more week until father in law arrives, husband purchases post, and then it's finally installed. 


    4. Installation of items after the inspection can mean laziness. One of the things we negotiated was to install a garbage disposal, which was done after our home inspection. The first weekend here, I tried out the dishwasher only to find out that instead of draining into the sink/pipes, it poured water all over the new hardwood floors. Angrily, I posted this on Facebook and my awesome neighbor popped over and removed a tiny little cap.

    Do you know what that tiny little cap does? Allows a dishwasher to drain properly. The garbage disposal and dishwasher are next to each other. It's not like they didn't know we had one and removing that cap was necessary.

    5. Outlets make terrible noises. I'm still waiting on this one to be fixed, but the light switch that controls the outside outlet makes a terrible grinding noise when turned on. We thought we had fixed it, but it came back and now I'm patiently waiting on the electrician to return my call.

    6. Outside lights randomly fall off. This was fun, I came home from work one day only to find that our outside light had cracked completely in half at the bracket that holds it onto the siding. Currently waiting to hear from the home warranty people because while I don't expect much, I think lights should stay affixed for more than 2 months.

    7. Gutter cleaning is optional. We couldn't figure out if the gutters were clogged or if the tree in front of the house was creating the massive waterfall in front of the front door every time it rained. Tired of dealing with it, I called a guy who came out and cleaned them that day. And he found that the front gutter wasn't just entirely clogged with your generic gutter materials, but with shingle soot, meaning they replaced the roof and didn't think to clean the gutters afterward. Maybe I'm being picky here, but seriously? That's like washing the outside of your car and dumping a full trash bag inside.

    8. Spiders don't share. I am quickly waging a war against all 8 legged creatures who are currently residing here. None of them pay the mortgage and prefer to be large, hairy and pop out at the most inconvenient of times. A monthly service to a exterminator is looking better and better every day.

    9. Storm door instructions are liars. Now, this is more about the door itself than the house, but I wouldn't have a storm door if I didn't have a house, so here it is. At the bottom of the door was the tube and spring that stopped the door from flying open. It had a little button that said press to keep open, and I thought what that meant was you pressed the button and it locked the door in the open position and it wouldn't swing shut. Instead what that meant was the hing part would shear off completely and now the door swings open whenever it desires.

    10. There is a never-ending list of random small projects. Ours includes replacing the ball and spring to keep the closet door closed, replacing the drain stopper thing in the shower that randomly broke off, shaving off the bottoms of all the bedroom doors because they catch on the carpet and don't allow for air flow, patching small holes in screens, and applying caulk to damn near everything because apparently there was a shortage on caulk when they remodeled this house because it's not anywhere it should be. 

    Carrot Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing #SharpenYourKitchenIQ

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    Over the years I've spent in the kitchen, I've learned which brands of kitchen tools I like to use and which ones I don't mind passing on to others. Last year I was introduced to the KitchenIQ V-Etched Better Zester and within a few seconds I packed up the two other zesters in the drawer and made this the only one allowed in the kitchen.



    When I found out KitchenIQ was looking for bloggers to use some of their new products, I signed up right away, extremely curious to know what they were going to send me.

    In addition to another V-Etched Better Zester, I also received a Grate Ginger Tool and a V-Etched Spice Grater.



    Disclaimer: I received three complimentary products from KitchenIQ for the purpose of a review. Receipt of the product has no influence on my review. All thoughts are my own. No further compensation was received. 

    I used to not be a fan of ginger. I thought the powdered version had an odd after taste, that the pickled version that comes along with your plate of sushi was disgusting and that fresh ginger had a spicy kick to it that I was simply "weird". And then somewhere along the way, my taste buds changed and now I actively seek out ginger in all forms, even going as far as to make my own ginger simple syrup. (I'll share that recipe eventually...)

    I thought about what type of recipes I could make with the tools that we were given. Ginger, was an obvious choice, as was the zest of something. Lemon pairs so nicely with ginger I decided that going much further out side of the box of pairings was not needed and I could easily find a recipe including both of those ingredients.



    Carrot Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing
    Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
    Servings: 2 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 2 large carrots, peeled and spiralized
      • ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
      • juice and zest of 1 lemon
      • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
      • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
      • 1 packet Stevia
      • salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions:
    1. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, and stevia until combined.
    2. Pour over carrots in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Top with fresh cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving, but up to overnight. The flavors will intensify the longer they mingle together.
    4. Salad will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.


    Raw carrots have been one of my favorite vegetables to eat for as far back as I can remember. Spiralizing them is not as easy as one would imagine, so I completely understand if you go the easier route and simply peel them into ribbons.

    The lemon zest and juice brighten up the dish and the spicy kick of the fresh ginger compliments so nicely against the sweetness of the carrot. I could easily eat this salad every day. It whips up in no time at all and is sure to please any crowd of people you serve it to.


    *Fast Metabolism Diet: recipe is compliant for Phase 1. Portion sizes are dependent on the size of carrots used. Two tablespoons of olive oil can be whisked into the dressing to be compliant for Phase 3. 

    What fun is talking about kitchen tools if you don't have the option to win them? The awesome people at KitchenIQ are willing to give away the same tools I received. 

    The giveaway is open to U.S. residents age 18 or older. The winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter and announced here. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. Cookaholic Wife and KitchenIQ are not responsible for items lost in the mail. 



    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    #GOMO: Go Out More Often AKA 2017 Bucket List

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    If I didn't participate in an online message board or have coworkers a decade+ younger than me, I'm fairly certain I'd have no idea what new slang terms and acronyms are now being said.

    Okay, let's be real. I still have to ask what exactly those mean, because apparently this is what happens when you're 32 and not on Snapchat. But for all I know, Snapchat isn't even cool anymore and there's some new app.

    Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Perhaps you've heard of FOMO - fear of missing out. (I'd actually heard of that one!!) As trends go, FOMO is totally out and now it's all about the GOMO - Go(ing) Out More Often. What does that mean exactly?

    It's kind of like the hip-2017 version of a bucket list. It's not about spending money on things (Amazon and Target, I'm looking at you) but more about having experiences like going on a ghost tour or your communities local art festival.

    As much as I like shopping and buying things I may or may not need, experiences are really what sticks with you when you take a little trip down memory lane.

    Eventbrite, a hugely popular event site, is behind GOMO, seeing as they offer the ability to create your own events, rsvp to an event and buy tickets for an event all in one nifty little spot.

    I'll be honest, that whole "buying a house" thing has put a bit of a halt in my ability to GOMO, but nevertheless, here is what I'm hoping to accomplish this year.

    My 2017 GOMO 

    Monkeys and MaCaws in Honduras: As part of the cruise we went on, we did an excursion where we got to walk through an animal preserve and have monkeys and macaws sit on our shoulders. The monkeys were less nosy than the macaws and personally, I preferred them, but how often do you get to have a cute little monkey sitting on your shoulder eating sunflower seeds the trainer is handing her?



    Chacchobben Ruins in Mexico: This was another cruise excursion, but a totally cool way to see history. We literally got to climb up ancient Mayan ruins and see where families slept and spent their time. Ir was amazing and enlightening.



    Sightseeing in New Orleans: Tom and I fall further down the outgoing scale into the homebody category, so honestly, the entire trip to New Orleans and seeing all the city has to offer was out of our usual comfort zone, but wandering around the gorgeous city from Bourbon Street to Jackson Square to the Garden District and Frenchman Street was amazing. I simply cannot wait to come back to the city.



    Local Art Festival: I live in what's referred to as a bedroom neighborhood in Maryland. Our limited shopping options are on the main street (only a mile or so away) but once you get past that, it's nothing but houses, apartments, parks and churches. Next month, some community members have planned a local arts festival to be held at one of the parks and I'm excited to go and meet some neighbors and see what kind of cool stuff they have to offer.

    Brunch with Friends: I've always wanted to be part of that crowd that gets together and goes to brunch. Except, all of my friends have kids and busy schedules and we never get the time to really make it work, but I'm determined to find a Saturday or Sunday this summer where we can all get together, drink a few mimosas and eat all the brunch foods!



    Concert: I'm not sure who or where yet, but it's on my list to make it to a concert this year. Perhaps I'll get really lucky and manage to win a set of tickets off the radio. Cross your fingers for me?

    Gardening: Well, this is really more about not killing plants. I have a brown thumb. It's definitely not green as I kill most flowers and plants, but it's not black because I can keep a cactus and herbs mostly alive. My mom planted a bunch of flowers in my yard and now I need to figure out how to keep them living through the summer until she comes back in the fall and tells me what to do with them then.



    Harford County Wine Festival: I attended this once a few years ago and it was delicious and amazing and I'd love to get some friends together and go back for another day there.



    10K Across the Bay: When I was a kid, my cousin convinced my mom and I to do a 10K walk across the Bay Bridge and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. If you're not a Maryland local, you probably know this bridge only because it comes up as one of the scariest bridges to ever cross. It crosses the Chesapeake Bay and only has the standard guardrails you would see on the road. They've recently brought back the event and I've found a friend to drag along with me.



    Grinchmas: This is entirely dependent on our financial situation toward the end of the year, but Tom and I both love the Grinch and would absolutely love to go to Florida, or more specifically, Universa Studios during December, when they host Grinchmas.



    Head on over to Eventbrite.com, type in your city or zip code and see what cool stuff is happening in your area, then create your own GOMO list!






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