• Cherry Almond Cookies

  • Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

  • Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers

  • Berry Pom Smoothies

  • Kale and Lentil Soup

  • Toasted Almond and Farro Salad with Tahini Dressing

  • Bourbon Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Lasagna Bolognese

Baked Avocado Fries

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Adults need after-school snacks, too. If I’ve had a busy afternoon, around 4:00pm I usually need something to munch on to carry me through dinner. Maybe that’s why happy hour was invented. Kids have after-school snacks… we have happy hour.

I am hooked on these avocado fries. I love the crunchy whole wheat breading paired with the creamy rich avocado.

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These snacks won’t leave you feeling as guilty since they are baked with whole wheat ingredients. It’s easy peasy. First, make an assembly line and bread each avocado slice.

DSC_0001Bake avocados for a quick 20 minutes, finish with course salt and a fresh squeeze of lime and serve warm alongside your favorite beverage.

DSC_0043-682x1024So whether your teen is grazing the pantry for an after-school snack or you and your girlfriends are declaring it happy hour on the back patio, these avocado fries are sure to please.

Baked Avocado Fries
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 20 min.

Ingredients:

1 large avocado, pitted and sliced thick (into about 8 pieces)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 lime

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°. In one bowl, combine whole wheat flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. In another bowl, mix the whole wheat bread crumbs with the other 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg. Set up an assembly line, first dredging each piece of avocado in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, followed by a generous coating of bread crumbs.

Transfer avocados onto a wire rack and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Once removed from the oven, finish with a sprinkle of course salt and fresh lime juice. Serve warm.

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Key Lime Pie

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Warm nights on the patio. A sizzling grill with the smell of BBQ. The faint music of the ice cream man in the distance. Sunburns. Mosquito bites. Although my calendar begs to differ, I officially declare it: summer!!!

Each summer, we try to travel to our most beloved place in the world, Seaside, Florida. My family has been vacationing there since I was three and now that the secret is out, it’s become quite a popular destination. A few summers ago they had a happy hour deal at the local market where slices of pie and glasses of wine were half off in the afternoons. There’s nothing like sitting on the porch with the sea breeze rustling through my hair sipping on wine and eating key lime pie. That’s my kind of vacation.

The key to a good key lime pie is…well…key limes. However, they’re pretty hard to find here in Missouri. Fortunately, most speciality stores here sell key lime juice (we like Nellie & Joe’s), which makes this recipe possible even in this land locked state.

Key Lime Pie
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 14 min. Chill Time: Overnight

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

15 honey graham cracker sheets
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Filling:

Zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup key lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

For the Topping:

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, blend all ingredients of the crust until it becomes like fine wet sand. When pinched together, the crumbs should lightly stick together. Add more butter if not sticking together. Pat crumbs evenly into a 9″ pie round. Bake the crust for about 6 minutes until aromatic. Clean food processor while crust is baking.

Blend all ingredients of the filling until smooth. Pour into pie crust and bake for 12-14 minutes, until filling is set around the edges but the middle still jiggles when shook. Remove from oven and cool. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

To make topping, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until hard peaks form. Pipe topping using a star shaped tip, starting on the outside and working your way in.

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Serve chilled.

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Strawberry Shortcake

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As I watched my mother flip through a dessert book on Mother’s Day, I was hoping to myself that she would pick an easy yet impressive dessert. One I could whip up perfectly. One that would show off my culinary skills. One that would wow everyone else at our celebration. She closed the big cookbook, looked at me, and asked, “How about strawberry shortcake?” What? Mom’s never even mentioned liking that dessert before. Surely she wanted a triple chocolate ganache cake. I asked again. She answered, “Strawberry shortcake! It just sounds so good. I used to love it.” The decision had been made, and I was hesitant. In my opinion, strawberry shortcake is not fancy. It’s not complicated. It’s never the star of a menu. It doesn’t look beautiful. It’s not anything new. However, this was the best dessert mom could order this year, because it’s exactly how she taught me to live.

She practices living humbly and reminds me not to strive so hard to reach perfection that I lose sight of who I really am. So often we (and I think women in particular) are focused on perfectionism to a degree that when we mess up or aren’t exactly a certain way we have a hard time coping. Our homes, our meals, our families must be just perfect or (gasp) what will everyone else think? Our pastor preached recently about how perfectionism can lead to a distorted picture of who you really are, and that’s not how God calls us to live. He calls us to live humble lives, vulnerable and real, in order to create real relationships and live according to His word. Mom had it right all along, and whether she knows it or not, she helped keep me accountable.

Strawberry shortcake is a humble dessert. It’s real, it’s messy, and it’s super easy to make. Nothing too fancy, nothing too impressive. But the beauty behind all of that is when it’s in it’s true simple form, it tastes heavenly. It’s loved for exactly what it is.

And so am I. Thanks, mom.

Strawberry Shortcake
Prep Time: 20 min. Cook Time: 15 min.

Recipe Adapted From: Pioneer Woman and Bon Appétit

Ingredients:

For the cakes:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg, beaten

For the strawberries:
1 quart strawberries, quartered
1/4 cup sugar

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, mix together the strawberries and sugar. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble cakes.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the butter and continue to pulse until all butter is cut in. Add the buttermilk and almond extract, and continue to pulse until a dough forms. Do not over mix.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface, and knead for about a minute. Roll into a sheet about 1/2″ thick, cut into 2″ width rounds (I used a cocktail glass for this) and place them on a silicone mat.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush some of this egg wash on the tops of the biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cake tops are golden brown and cooked through.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and continue to beat until hard peaks form.

Cut each cake in half, and assemble with berries and cream between layers and on top.

Makes a dozen shortcakes

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