Cherry Couscous & Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

A recipe for a fresh summer salad, plus a $50 Whole Foods gift card giveaway! - cookieandkate.com

Are you stuck on the slow summer wavelength, too? Let’s embrace it. Let’s sit in the shade and watch the sun go down. Sip on cold drinks. Hop in the pool. Play board games on the porch. Stretch at yoga class. Maybe even do less work (and not feel bad about it). Let’s fill up on big, fresh salads, too. Salads like this cherry stunner you see here.

cherries

This salad came to be after Whole Foods asked me to come up with a cherry recipe. Any recipe, as long as it contains cherries. Challenge accepted! As a reward, I got a $50 Whole Foods gift card for you (and a gift card for me, too). I don’t do a lot of giveaway posts, but an offer for high quality, free groceries? You deserve a chance at that. Just don’t spend it all on the dark chocolate mini malt balls in the bulk bin section… or do. They’re delicious.

The winner will also receive a copy of a beautiful new cookbook that I’ve been meaning to tell you about. It’s called The Vibrant Table: Recipes from My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, and Sometimes Raw Kitchen by Anya Kassoff of Golubka Kitchen. This cookbook would be great for someone whose diet is both vegan and gluten free. A number of the recipes call for specialty ingredients, but that’s where the Whole Foods gift card comes in.

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Salted Peanut Butter and Honey Ice Cream

Rich and creamy, dairy-free peanut butter ice cream - cookieandkate.com

Do you remember those “choose your own adventure” books from childhood? The books that let you choose how the story proceeds, with each option presenting different potential outcomes? Just thinking about those books makes me nostalgic for simpler times, when limited choices offered more clear-cut conclusions. Life’s not so simple these days.

Anyway, this peanut butter ice cream recipe is kind of like those “choose your own adventure” books, so I thought I’d present it as such. Fortunately, each option leads to a happy ending.

peanut butter and honey

Question no. 1: To add spice or not to add spice? The first time I made this ice cream, I added 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, which lent a stronger jolt of spiciness than anticipated. The cold, sweet-and-spicy ice cream tingled my throat and kept me going back for bite after bite.

I loved the cayenne version, as did Tessa and Jordan. Alissa, on the other hand, much preferred my spice-free, salted second version. If you’re sensitive to spicy heat like Alissa or want a more traditional ice cream flavor, skip the cayenne.

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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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