Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Earlier this month, we went to Nashville for hubby’s 40th/CMA Fest. We had so much fun and also ate our weight in fried chicken. Let me tell you. That spicy fried chicken thing they’ve got goin’ on in Music City is to. die. for.

I wish fried chicken didn’t have calories, because I’d be making this on the reg. But, these sandwiches gave us just enough of a little taste of Nashville at home.

To kick these sandwiches up a notch, I generously added spicy honey on top of the fried chicken. And then, topped them with the Trader Joe’s sweet and spicy jalapenos that are amazing (and I literally add to everything these days) and some spicy pickles.

Cucumber Salad with Mint, Basil and Trader Joe’s EBTB Seasoning

Guys, I am so into mint and basil chopped up on and in everything (see: herbed turkey meatballs). One of my 2019 Bucket List items was finishing dishes with fresh herbs or lemon/lime, and I’ve been all over it all year, but especially so now that the weather has finally broken.

This time of year begs for fresh flavors, crisp veggies, and overall light and quick meals. Really, who wants to turn on the stove anyway?! And less time in the kitchen means more time outside, or at the beach, lake or pool. Sign me up!

7-Minute Grilled Pesto Pizzas

Oh how I love some grilled pizza, year-round, but especially in the summer. On Friday nights, we host a Fire Pit Friday with grilled pizza for all our friends and family. For that, we use the Trader Joe’s crusts, but when it’s just myself and hubby at the pool, we love to use a loaf of French bread, topped with pesto, mozz and cherry tomatoes. And it’s literally ready in 7 minutes!

Food poolside always feels like such a challenge to my creativity – kind of like when you’re trying to have a picnic and have to come up with something easy to eat, clean up and something that can hold up to the hotter weather.

30-minute Herbed Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Dinner ready in 30 minutes? Yes, please! I commute pretty far during the week (minimum 1.5 hours on the way home every day) and by the time I get into the kitchen I really don’t want to make something that takes a long time or a lot of effort. A turkey meatball is always a reliable choice, especially when they’re ready in 30 minutes (25 of which are spent in the oven)!

I like to strategically pick my weeknight dinners, usually opting for something that has to bake or simmer for at least 15 minutes. This gives me time to get at least one chore done while we wait for our dinner to be ready – love to switch the laundry, put a load away, do a load of dishes, or, more often than not, wash my face and put on pajamas.

Once dinner is made, I’m kind of down for the count. I’ll play with the pups, or work on a new recipe or do some “research” for “inspiration” on Pinterest. The last thing I want to do at night is clean! So, I get in a few minutes to tidy up while dinner does its thing.

Tomato Ricotta Toasts

Toast-for-dinner is one of my go-tos for nights when I have no time, or get home late, or feel incredibly uninspired. And then, every time we do actually have toast, it always feels like such a little treat!

It’s such a simple idea that once you make a few different variations, you’ll have them in your back pocket when you need a quick meal or are having one of those no-idea-what-to-make-for-dinner kind of nights.

Cobb Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing Recipe

Don’t you find it so absolutely easy to fall into a salad rut? Especially if it’s something you have basically every day for lunch. How many times can you have chicken + lettuce + some kind of veg? Too many! So, I’m working in these cobb salads to help shake things up a bit. Plus, homemade ranch dressing doesn’t hurt either.

It’s all about the toppings with a good salad, isn’t it? For these, I just went with tomatoes, bacon, gorgonzola, hard boiled eggs, marinated grilled chicken and Trader Joe’s chili corn salsa (because I’m 100% obsessed with the stuff, but also because I forgot to buy an ear of corn). I’d also recommend throwing avocado slices on this guy, too!

Grilled Ricotta Cheese

If you don’t like grilled cheese, I’m really not sure we can be friends! Okay, maybe we can, I’ll take it under consideration. But guys. You’ve gotta try this grilled ricotta cheese!

The ricotta is so creamy, and a little salty. The bread has the best crunch. A little basil whipped into the ricotta and dropped on top – so summery!

Go-To for any Meal: Shakshuka with Feta & Olives

I think it’s important to have a few reliable go-to recipes you can make for any meal of the day, from breakfast to brunch to dinner or a snack. You all already know how much I love a you-do-you-boo recipe, and this is definitely one of those. A Shahshuka is easy, simple, quick and totally customizable to your preferences. Don’t like feta or olives? Leave them out. Not feeling cumin? Skip it. Don’t like it spicy? Totally fine!

A Shakshuka is traditionally an African dish with eggs baked into a seasoned tomato sauce. You’ll see so many different varieties of shakshuka, even green shakshukas. You’ll see it with different spices, with or without red peppers, with or without feta and olives. This is just my favorite way to make it. Once you master the basics, you’ll be able to whip this up in no time with a few ingredients you likely always have on hand.

You don’t need anything fancy to make shakshuka, either! Just a nice big skillet. And hey, you could even make this smaller! Use a few ramekins or a smaller baking dish and a smaller can of tomatoes – shakshuka for one? Yes, please!

Smoked Salmon Niçoise Salad Recipe

Apparently I’m very much into salads the past few weeks! The idea for this one came out of thinking about a fun menu for a girls’ brunch and something that you could put on a huge platter for everyone to take for themselves. I do love a niçoise salad and thought that with a few tweaks, we could make it a solid brunch salad recipe.

A niçoise salad, originally from Nice, France, often includes tomatoes, eggs, olives, string beans, potatoes and tuna. Since the tomatoes aren’t great this time of year, I used fresh persian cucumbers that have a to-die-for crunch. They feel so fresh! Then, I made breakfast potatoes instead of just boiled potatoes, to really bring that brunch vibe to the plate.

I didn’t like the idea of tuna at a brunch, so smoked salmon is the obvious choice here! I topped the salmon with a bit of the Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning – it totally works for this. Very brunchy vibe.

Couldn’t-Get-Lobster Shrimp Mac ‘n Cheese

Sometimes, things just don’t go as planned. Sometimes, you just gotta roll with it and adjust and make it work. So this mac ‘n cheese was supposed to have lobster and I couldn’t get my hands on tails, so, here we are with shrimp mac ‘n cheese. But not just any shrimp. The Argentinian shrimp from Trader Joe’s. It’s sweet and meaty and very lobster-y.

The key to a baller mac ‘n cheese is 100% the cheese. Using good quality white cheddar and gouda gives the flavor a little tang and a lot of creaminess. And if you’re on a diet, just avert your eyes. There’s nothing light about this recipe and I mean, if you’re going to go for mac ‘n cheese, let’s just really go for it, right?