Feta Fiesta Kale Salad with Avocado and Crispy Tortilla Strips

Hearty kale taco salad with feta, black beans, pepitas, avocado and tortilla strips, tossed in a spicy lime dressing - cookieandkate.com

When it comes to salads, I’ve come a long way. I used to be a super picky salad eater. In high school, every time I went to a chain restaurant with my friends, I would request a spinach salad (spinach only!) with ranch dressing on the side. This simple request was often met with skepticism in the kitchen and my salad would come back with more than just spinach. I’d keep sending it back until I got my spinach-only salad. (Belated apologies to the servers.)

jalapeno-lime dressing

I still appreciate spinach and ranch dressing, but my salads have become much more creative in the years since high school. I stopped adding meat to my salads a few years ago, at which point my salad bowl got bigger and the contents became even more colorful and diverse. These days, I could truly be content eating a salad at every meal. A great salad is a delightful way to get our daily dose of fresh produce.

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12 Summer Potluck Recipes

12 mayo-free potluck dishes for July 4th! Roundup by @cookieandkate.

My mom’s side of the family gets together every Fourth of July for a family reunion. Each year, we meet up at our cousins’ lake house for some totally classic Independence Day activities. The lake community holds an egg toss competition, turtle race and a talent show when the sun goes down, no less.

One of my favorite aspects of the day, other than hanging out with some of my favorite people, is the potluck spread inside the cabin. Everyone brings something to share. Potluck dishes cover the table and overflow onto the kitchen island. I fill my plate with homemade salads and make sure to leave room for potato chips—it’s the one day a year that I gorge myself on potato chips. America!

I’m not sure I’m going to make it home for the reunion this year, but I rounded up some of my favorite potluck dishes in case you’re on the lookout for your next potluck contribution. No need to stress over these recipes. They’re all simple, mayo free and delicious at room temperature. What will you be bringing on the 4th?

I’m including some of your comments about these recipes below, like I did in my salad roundup. I love love love to hear how my recipes turn out in your kitchen! I also love to see your instagrams. Don’t forget to tag them #cookieandkate—I don’t want to miss them!

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Blueberry Honey Bran Muffins

Honey sweetened, whole grain, blueberry bran muffins - cookieandkate.com

Thank you all for being you. I didn’t mean to stir up concern with my last post. I appreciate your reassurances, though. I’m still dusting myself off, but lots of real time with friends last weekend helped. We spent not one but two afternoons at the pool, feasted on chips and guacamole for dinner and celebrated a good man’s birthday on his front porch.

bran and blueberries

I don’t have a lot of grand ideas about my future life, but I know I want a big front porch. A screened-in back patio would be nice, too. And a deck, while we’re at it. I wouldn’t mind a balcony. I can’t speak for you, but something magical happens when I cross the threshold to an outdoor space. In the absence of blinking screens and mechanical distractions, my shoulders relax, my work disappears and I feel present.

I’m making a purposeful effort this summer to slow down. The season demands it. Long days are for evening walks and wine with friends. I don’t have any colorful Instagrams to show for last weekend’s fun times because I wanted to be in the moment. I understand that every aspect of my life could be leveraged for content, but sometimes I resent that concept. Framing events for social consumption is distracting. It’s, like, so meta and I just want to be. You know what I mean, man?

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Spicy Kale and Coconut Stir Fry

Spicy stir-fried kale with coconut and rice (gluten free) - cookieandkate.comIf you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That’s what my mom always told me. Maybe you’ve heard the same from your mom. Over the past week, as I’ve been confronted by some ugly aspects of my own personality and the food blog world, I’ve gone quiet. Insecurities and income instability have me questioning my every move.

I was struggling to find words worth sharing this morning when my phone beeped at me. “Pool day?” it asked. Those two little words reminded me that I have some sweet friends and the freedom to take off work for an afternoon. All is not lost!

kale, green onions, rice and eggs

I’ve already enjoyed stir-fry leftovers for breakfast today. This dish is a relatively quick weeknight meal that features a healthy dose of kale and some of my favorite Thai flavors.

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Socca Pizza with Summer Squash and Feta

Delicious gluten-free pizza made with an easy chickpea flour crust - cookieandkate.com

An earthquake interrupted my slumber early this morning. In my dreams, I was jogging along a winding, foggy forest path with friends, while in reality, a 4.2-magnitude quake was rumbling up to my parents’ house. All of a sudden, I was awake and riding the mechanical bull formerly known as my bed. Cookie barked, and it was over as quickly as it began. Oklahoma already gets hit by tornadoes so this new earthquake phenomenon seems a bit excessive, but I respect mother nature’s occasional reminders that she’s still the boss around here.

The Homemade Flour Cookbook - cookieandkate.com

I made this socca pizza the night before before I headed south for an extended weekend. So, what is socca, anyway? Socca is a simple, savory, crispy pancake made with just chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt. Apparently it’s a popular street food in Nice, France, where they sprinkle it heavily with freshly ground black pepper and serve it with cold glasses of rosé. Let’s go!

The longer socca bakes under the broiler, the crispier the bottom sides and edges become. Crisp socca makes a fine gluten-free pizza crust, with a flavor slightly reminiscent of falafel, and it’s even easier to make than pizza dough. Socca, socca! (Sing it like polka, polka!)

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Kombucha Moscow Mules

Kombucha Moscow Mules! Gingerberry and ginger versions. cookieandkate.com

Drumroll, please. I got Cookie’s DNA test results back yesterday! This funny mutt of mine is half schipperke (called it!) and half mixed medley. The mixed side includes dachshund and Australian koolie, which explains the rest. Cookie is a smart, ornery schipperke with a koolie’s spots and herding habits, topped off with floppy dachshund ears.

gingerberry kombucha and dog

My imagination is running wild. How did this creature come to be? I see her mother as an elegant, purebred black schipperke living in a posh Tulsa suburb. Her dad? The handsome, spotted, charming gentleman next door. The Don Draper of dachshunds, if you will.

Six years ago, on a warm spring evening, they snuck off to share a plate of spaghetti and watch the sun set. One thing led to another and now I’m sharing the couch with their clown daughter. It was all meant to be.

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