Simple Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Dipping Sauce

Simple caprese skewers recipe, perfect for summer parties!

A few weekends ago, while on bridesmaid duty for my pal Tessa, I arrived at the rehearsal dinner with a growling stomach. I grabbed a glass of wine and promptly accepted an appetizer offered by a college-age waitress. I was so glad to see this stranger that I almost hugged her.

She had a whole plate of cute caprese skewers in her arms, complete with a bowl of balsamic dipping sauce that was thick enough not to drip all over my new silk dress. It’s the little things.

tomato, peach and basil

I grabbed a skewer, then another, and marveled at how simple and perfect these appetizers were. Tomato, basil and mozzarella on a stick. They’re easy to make, easy to hold and easy to eat. You can’t say that for most appetizers, which make mingling and eating at the same time a less-than-pleasant affair. (Like, why do we serve big hunks of broccoli on veggie trays? So we can all walk around with broccoli bits between our teeth? Am I the only person who experiences party broccoli paranoia? Please say no.)

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Maureen’s Avocado Tabbouleh

Avocado tabbouleh recipe, so simple and fresh! cookieandkate.com

If you had to pick one cuisine to eat for the rest of your life, which would it be? Tough question, I know. I would have to pick Mediterranean food. Fresh herbs, ripe produce, lemons, feta and olive oil? Yes, please. All the salads, please. Mediterranean cooking is a party with all of my favorite ingredients.

parsley

Given my predilection for Mediterranean food, I was excited to come across Maureen Abood’s new (and first!) cookbook, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms. It’s full of fresh and classic recipes from Maureen’s Lebanese-American kitchen. Think hummus, labneh, kibbeh and the more gorgeous tomato salads. It offers quite a few traditional desserts, breads, pickles and teas, too. The book wasn’t designed for vegetarians, so I only skimmed through the meaty entrée section, but that’s just me.

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Freekeh with Basil-Cilantro Pesto and Grilled Pineapple Skewers

Grilled pineapple and bell pepper with herbed whole grains! This simple meal is packed with flavor. cookieandkate.com

Do you still have bad dreams about forgetting your locker combination on the first day of school? Or your class schedule? I do. Sometimes, in my dreams, the campus turns into a giant maze and I can’t get from one place to another without encountering obstacles everywhere along the way.

I have similarly bad dreams about waiting tables. I can’t make it to the computer to input my orders and wake up shouting, “SIDE SALAD!”

freekeh and pineapple

Such was the case with this recipe. After two semi-successful recipe tests, I made one more trip to the store to stock up for the finale. I ambitiously filled my basket with produce for future photo shoots and headed home to take Cookie on a walk.

Shortly thereafter, my back started aching. An hour later, chills. I dragged myself to bed with an extra blanket and woke up the next morning in a feverish, mummified state. Recipe testing was put on hold for a day while I slept on the couch with my four-legged nurse.

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Summertime Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Super fresh tomato sauce with spaghetti - cookieandkate.com

“What do you do for a living?” they ask. I never know how my response will go over or which questions will follow. Most often, the questions are, “How did you get into that?” and, “where do you get your recipes?” On a recent flight, I got a bold, “How do you make money doing that?!” from my seat mate. All fine questions, mind you.

fresh tomato sauce ingredients

I never have a good answer to the recipe source question. Typically, the recipes are a composite of ideas from restaurant meals, magazines, other blogs, cookbooks and suggestions from friends and readers. Sometimes I wake up with ideas; sometimes they pop into my head when I open my refrigerator; sometimes they come to me when I’m deep in conversation during happy hour. I always try my best to give credit where credit is due.

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15 Cold Summer Treats

15 cold summer treats, from popsicles to cocktails to ice cream! Get the recipes at cookieandkate.com

First things first! Cookie and Kate is hiring a local kitchen assistant. We’re in Kansas City. After five years of doing it all myself, I’m so excited to bring on some help. Details here! Also on that front, if you’ve noticed the site loading slowly lately, it should be fixed now. Growing pains. :)

As the temperatures near 100, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite cold treats. Cocktails, ice cream, frozen yogurt and popsicles galore! Most are fresh, fruity and naturally sweetened, too. What are you craving?

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Cucumber Mojito

Super refreshing cucumber mojitos! Learn how to make them at cookieandkate.com

Long summer days are the best, aren’t they? Ninety-plus temperatures can be draining, but I never stop riding the summer wavelength. I love it. I love the buzz I feel inside and the echo of the creatures buzzing outside. I love the summer thunderstorms that rattle my little house with thunder. One is rolling through right now, flexing its muscles in distant booms and waves of rain.

cucumber mojito ingredients

When the sun is shining down, I love to sit on a patio and sip on an ice cold and clinking, fizzy drink. This cocktail is perfect for that. I thought minty mojitos couldn’t get more refreshing… until I added cucumber, that is. It lends some marvelously complimentary, fresh flavor without fighting the mint. Break out that muddler, because mojito season is officially here!

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