The Strawberry Blondes Figure Friendly Valentine’s Day Treats

I have been hunting the worldwide web for guilt-free treats. Anyone who knows me can attest to my obsession with anything sweet. I don’t discriminate. Chocolate, ice cream, cookies, FROSTING, brownies – doesn’t matter what it is…I love it. My wedding dress, however, does not share the love of sweets. My beautiful white dress that I will be flaunting in August is calling to me and reminding me to step awaaaaay from the sweets.

I found a recipe from Weight Watchers for vanilla crisp cookies that looked pretty yummy so I tried making them this week. And I was pleasantly surprised that they were delicious! Also these cookies were super simple to make.

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The recipe suggested to use almond extract to make almond crisps instead so I tried that. You also need two egg whites, flour, powdered sugar and butter.

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Mix all the ingredients together. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and add small spoonfuls of batter to the cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for 6-7 minutes. Once cooled the cookies are ready to enjoy!

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Smoothies are a staple in our house. Jon’s Grandma gave us an amazing Cuisinart blender and since then we are obsessed with smoothies. I combined three of my favorite things to make a great smoothie in honor of Valentine’s Day: Fage Greek yogurt, honey and strawberries!

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I blended about a cup of frozen strawberries with half a cup of Greek yogurt. Then I drizzled in about 1 tablespoon of honey for added sweetness. This is a tasty breakfast that will fill you right up!

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m a lucky girl to have 2 Valentine’s ❤️.

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Cozy Winter Suppers (and healthy too!)

Well I’m sure I don’t have to tell most of you that New England is buried in snow. I have had 7 snow days in the last 3 weeks! Well I guess not technically snow days but “work from home while it’s snowing” days. I am stir crazy but will take the cabin fever over the 4 hours it would take me to get to work in Boston. The train isn’t functioning, therefore the tireless peeps of Mass have taken to their cars to commute down the snow lined streets. It has been a crazy few weeks.

The silver lining is the many days I have gotten to spend at home with Tobes. He is beyond obsessed with the snow. His new run that Jon set up in the backyard is great because he can run the entire length of the yard. He has been jumping on snow piles, digging in the snow and having an absolute blast.

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Now for the food! Winter is comfort food season and there’s nothing I love more than a big bowl of pasta or a bowl of creamy risotto. The two meals on The Strawberry Blondes today are a few of my favorite easy meal combinations. My Dad introduced me to Knorr rice and pasta sides. I am obsessed with them. They come in little packets and cook in 7 minutes! My favorite is the broccoli and cheddar rice but this week I tried the butter and herb pasta. I chopped up 2 organic chicken breasts and marinated in the mojo marinade. I also added about a tablespoon of fresh thyme.

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I cooked the chicken in a frying pan on medium heat until browned. While the chicken cooked, I cooked the butter and herb pasta according to the package directions. I also roasted some brussel sprouts. I cut the stems off the brussel sprouts and coated them in extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. I roasted them on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until they were crispy and delicious!

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Once the pasta was cooked (only 7 minutes later – you have to love that) I mixed the pasta into the pan with the chicken.

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This meal definitely satisfies the craving for a huge bowl of pasta without the guilty feeling. 😃

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One of my favorite vegetarian comfort meals is risotto. I started buying Lundberg risotto and a few weeks ago I found a butternut squash version at an organic market on the Cape. Double yum.

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I had butternut squash frozen so it was a little mushy once it thawed. I coated it with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper and roasted it in the oven until it was golden brown and delicious. I cooked the risotto according to the package directions and it was creamy and decadent when it was finished cooking.

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The creaminess of the risotto combined with the sweet, saltiness of the butternut was suchhhh a great combination!

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I hope everyone is staying warm and safe through all of these snow storms. Another snow day means another play in the snow day for the PoochontheMove! He’s thrilled!

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The Strawberry Blondes Post Holiday Post

Well, The Strawberry Blondes have been very busy since our last post. Jon and I traveled to the beautiful island of St. Thomas, we moved and we enjoyed many holiday celebrations with our friends and families. The holiday season is so much fun. What is better than family, friends, good drinks and delicious food? I figured I would post about all of our holiday festivities before I begin my inevitable posts about eating healthy (the wedding diet has begun 😥).

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You know those amazing people in your life that you know that one way or another you will always be friends? Our wonderful friends the Millers fit perfectly into that category. Mrs. Miller and I met in college almost 12 (eek we are old) years ago. We met in a flurry of college activity – parties, late night chats over buffalo chicken subs, and lots of awesome music. Our lives have shifted gears quite a bit since those late nights walks to the bar at Providence College but we still have just as much fun. Jon and I recently had dinner at the Miller’s house and were lucky enough to have some of Mrs. Miller’s home cookin. Glazed carrots, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and delicious bread- is there any better meal on a chilly winter night?

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How gorgeous is she?

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Just before Christmas Jon and I made a long weekend trip to St. Thomas. It was a much needed break from the cold New England weather. St. Thomas is a beautiful island. We ate delicious food at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort and spent LOT of time in the infinity pools.

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We had amazing lunch every day down at the beach. The hotel had homemade hummus and cold, delicious pain killers.

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The restaurant at the Marriott had a lovely dish that was a gratin of artichokes and potatoes with a crispy breadcrumb topping. I am definitely going to recreate this!

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Just looking at these pictures again makes me long for a rum drink in the pool! What a view!

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Of course the best part of going on vacation is returning to pick up our little Poochonthemove. It was 25 degrees but he had his head out the window!

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The holidays are always filled with family, friends and sweets! I made cookie butter brownies for a cozy night with friends at my sisters apartment. Cookie butter is an amazing thing my friend Kathy introduced me to. It’s a spread, similar to peanut butter, but tastes kind of like cookie dough. Definitely not fat free but definitely right up my alley. I decided to try mixing the cookie butter into fudge brownies and WOW was it a great combo.

I used a regular brownie mix and then swirled in the melted cookie butter before baking.

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Christmas was kind of a crazy time to pack up your apartment and move…but we did it! We started packing and Tobes was very uneasy.

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We packed up and moved – Christmas decorations and all!

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We were a little disheveled at Christmas having just moved and misplaced a few presents but we had a great time!

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Tobes opened up his Christmas presents himself. He really cracks us up. He managed to find his cookies wrapped under the tree.

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I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and are settling into the new year. I know 2015 is going to be a great year because it’s the year I get to marry my best friend!

The Strawberry Blondes Famous Pulled Pork | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

It has taken me many years but I think I have finally crafted my perfect recipe for pulled pork. A few years back I made it for our Biochef Competition at the biotechnology company I was working for at the time. It was so popular that entire crockpot filled with pork was gone by the end of lunch. And the best part was that I won first place! I kept the trophy front and center on my desk at work because I was so proud of my award winning pulled pork. :) That was the first time I had made pulled pork and over the years my recipe hasn’t really changed much but I have tweaked it a bit to reach the ultimate deliciousness.

There are a zillion different ways to make pulled pork. My brother Brian and my Dad make it and they each have their own style. I am a fan of BBQ pulled pork and my secret ingredient is Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar sauce. It is the perfect BBQ sauce for executing the most deliciously tangy and sweet pulled pork.

And now for the recipe:

Start with a boneless pork shoulder. Because some of the shoulder will be fatty, you want the shoulder to be at least 4 pounds to be able to yield enough pulled pork once you trim the fat.

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Wash the pork and pat it dry with paper towels. Next take out the ingredients for the dry rub. You need brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Since you want to use about a tablespoon of each spice, I usually separate the spices into these adorable ramekins from my Gram.

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In addition to the spices you will need about 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Rub all of the ingredients onto the pork covering every surface. I don’t usually combine all the rub ingredients into one bowl so I can monitor how much of each spice is going onto the rub. I usually end up with a little nutmeg left over.

Next grab a big crockpot and fill the bottom with about an inch of liquid. For this particular recipe I used apple cider and maple syrup but if you don’t have cider you can use water and maple syrup.

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Lay the pork into the crockpot and cook on low for about 12 hours. Or cook on high for 7-8 hours. The cooking time really depends on your crockpot and the size of the piece of pork. To test whether it is done stick a fork into the middle and twist it. If the pork falls apart – it is finished!

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Once the pork has slightly cooked pull it out of the crockpot and lay it onto a cutting board. Pull it apart and discard the fatty pieces. Place all the pork into a bowl and dump about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of the Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar. Mix it together and taste test it. The amount of BBQ sauce really depends on how moist you want the pork.

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Another great thing about this recipe is that you can easily double of triple it depending on how much you need to make. Just make sure you have enough BBQ on hand!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do in our house!

PS if you haven’t checked out the @PoochontheMove on Instagram lately be sure to visit his page. My little famous sidekick in the kitchen has taken over the Insta scene!

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Butternut Squash Everything with The Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

Fall and winter vegetables are among my favorite foods. Every chance I get at a restaurant you will see me ordering butternut squash risotto, turnip purée or roasted sweet potatoes. My fiancé can definitely attest to this. It’s like Christmas morning any time I see butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli on a menu. It’s the little things in life, right? Maybe I am a bit too obsessed but I’m sure there are other people out there who can enjoy these savory comfort foods as much as I do.

Not Your Average Joe’s is a local restaurant chain that is always serving up something seasonally delicious that I cannot resist. A few weeks ago I ordered a homemade pasta dish with a creamy mushroom sage sauce with roasted butternut squash, chicken and spinach. How in the world could I resist this?

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This meal sparked a two week period of me cooking butternut squash everything. I found a delicious recipe for curried butternut squash soup in my Eat Well Eat Happy cookbook. This soup is so hearty and delicious – you have to try it!

The soup calls for about 9 cups of diced and cooked butternut. In addition you will also need:

about a cup of sliced shallots
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of Thai red curry paste
About 1 can of light coconut milk
1 tablespoon of ginger. I used ground ginger because I didn’t have fresh.
Juice from 1 lime
3-4 cups of chicken broth

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Heat olive oil and cook the shallots. Add ginger and garlic until well combined with the shallots. Next add the butternut and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the squash is tender then remove from the heat and cool slightly. Once cool, purée the soup.

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Pour the coconut milk into a small bowl and stir in the Thai red curry paste. Stir the coconut milk mixture into the soup and return the soup to the heat. Stir the lime juice in and enjoy!

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Makes a great lunch!

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Another one of my favorite butternut squash dishes is butternut lasagna. Jon’s Mom makes this and it is so delicious but very filling! You need low fat ricotta, lasagna noodles, marinara and mashed butternut.

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For the ricotta mixture in the lasagna, I add dried sage and ground pepper. In between ricotta layers mix in a few layers of mashed butternut squash. Top the lasagna with an extra layer of cheese and bake for about 45-50 minutes on 350.

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Thanks for reading!

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All About Apples | The Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

It’s fall! This is, in my humble opinion, the best food time of the year. Pumpkin everything, apples, squash, soups and comfort food at its best. My Grammy had told me over the phone that she made applesauce and it sounded so delicious I had to try it!

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I peeled, cored, and sliced a big bag of Macintosh apples. I had a few gala apples so I threw those in too. I sliced the apples about as thick as you would for an apple pie (Gram’s recommendation), about a quarter inch thick.

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I put all the apple slices into my Dutch oven, then added about 3/4 cup of apple cider. The apples let off a lot of juices so you don’t need very much juice. I cooked the apples on low for about 20 minutes. Then I sprinkled a bit of nutmeg and about a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. The apples are so delicious that you really don’t need any spice but I added it in anyway.

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The last thing I did was use the hand blender to purée the applesauce. I packaged it up and we ate it as a snack all last week. Yum!!

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Fall is bittersweet because while I love boots, bubble vests and cider, it also means we have to put the boat away for the season. We hauled Destiny a few weeks ago and tucked her in the yard for the winter. Tobes hung around in the yard all day with us eating sticks and leaves and rolling around in the grass.

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Another delicious fall favorite is an apple cider mimosa. Cidosa? Mimosapp? Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious. Just add apple cider to champagne and you have a festive fall cocktail.

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Happy November!

Bourbon Chicken | The Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

I found this meal on Pinterest from the blog Pinch of Yum and knew I had to try it. Sticky bourbon chicken and delicious white rice? What a great combo. Jon and I are definitely not bourbon drinkers but we had a nip of Jim Beam laying around which was just enough to make dinner. One of the things I liked so much about this dish is that it only requires ingredients right out of the pantry to make.

I adapted the recipe a bit to fit our taste. For the chicken you need 3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts. In a bowl, combine about 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup grape seed oil (or any oil), 1/2 cup rice vinegar, about a nip of bourbon (1/4-1/2 cup depending on your taste buds), a teaspoon of minced garlic, teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Mix the ingredients in the bowl together and add a little black pepper. Lay the chicken in a baking dish and then pour the mixture over the chicken. Next dice up a couple scallions and sprinkle on the chicken. Cover in plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least 4 hours. I made it the night before.

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Bake the chicken uncovered on 350 for about 45 minutes, basting the chicken with the juices every 10 or 15 minutes. For the last 5 minutes of cooking turn the oven on broil to get the chicken golden brown. Serve over white or jasmine rice with extra chopped scallions on top!

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Hope anyone in the Boston area is staying dry from all of the rain. Tobes is definitely a big grump when it comes to the rain and doesn’t want to get up out of bed.

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Eggplant And Chicken Parm | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup Tobesmcgobes in the Kitchen

We are huge fans of any Italian meal in our house. There is nothing like a good tomato sauce baked with chicken, pasta and cheese. In an attempt to switch up my normal chicken parmesan I also made eggplant parmesan and it was really delicious – almost good enough that we didn’t miss the chicken.

Chicken Parm:
I breaded the chicken with egg, flour, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. I used plain panko breadcrumbs and mixed them with a little Italian seasoning. For my chicken breasts I actually just used a little parmesan cheese instead of the full breading routine I used for Jon’s because that’s the way I like it. I cooked the chicken in a skillet for a few minutes on each side and then baked in the oven for another 15 minutes until cooked through.

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About 2 minutes before I take the chicken out of the oven I topped it with some mozzarella cheese and turned the oven to broil. This makes the breadcrumbs crispy and the cheese melt. Top with pasta and sauce and you’re all set!

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Eggplant Parm:

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Slice the eggplant and dust the slices with salt on either side. Let the eggplant drain in a colander for about 30 minutes until most of the bitter juices are released. Wipe the eggplant with a paper towel to remove any excess salt because you don’t want it to end up too salty.

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I like to make a panko breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture for the breading of the eggplant. First dunk the eggplant into an egg/milk mix and then coat with breadcrumbs and cheese. You can add a little chopped parsley or dried Italian seasoning to the crumbs for extra flavor. Cook the slices on either side for 2-3 in a medium heat skillet until the breadcrumbs are browned. Transfer the eggplant to a paper towel to remove any excess oil then move to a baking dish, cover with a little marinara and top with mozzarella. Bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes.

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Today I am including a few of my favorite puppy pictures from the day we got the peanut. Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of the day we picked him up from the rescue league. He traveled all the way from Tennessee overnight in a van marked “Pooches On the Move”. When we picked him up he was shaky and nervous but we scooped him up and told him not to worry because his life was about to drastically improve. Little did we know what a truly loveable, hilarious and adorable dog he would become.

Tobes meets his Dad

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First snuggles with his Mom

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First look at Boston

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Riding home in the car

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Meeting his Aunt

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First drink of water at home (only the size of a flip flop!)

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And check out Tobes on Instagram! His alias is Poochonthemove 😄.

Patriotic Cookies | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

Since today is such an important day of remembrance in US history, I thought I would blog my red, white, and blue, double chocolate chip cookies. I actually made these earlier in the summer but I thought today was an appropriate day to show my pride for our great country and post them on the blog.

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I typically make chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. Not original at all but they are SO good! It is also a great base for a cookie recipe that can be modified easily which I love about it. For my patriotic cookies I used red and blue m&ms and chocolate chips.

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Follow the recipe on the bag but instead of just chocolate chips, add m&ms along with about half a bag of the chocolate chips. Only bake the cookies for about 8 minutes if you want the cookies to be soft and chewy.

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Healthy Summer Breakfast and Lunch | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

August is rapidly coming to an end but I am determined not to be depressed about it. Jon, Tobes and I have been soaking in the last days of summer. We have been sailing, swimming, paddle boarding, running all while trying not to notice it is getting dark outside earlier every day.

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We have been trying to eat healthy. Within this post I have a few of our favorite lighter breakfast and lunch ideas. The first is a Greek yogurt parfait. I have fallen in love with Fage Greek yogurt. The Fage website has a lot of interesting savory recipes I am dying to try. I eat the yogurt every day and most days mix it with fruit or a little bit of granola. Parfaits are a fun treat because they combine all the ingredients in a pretty bowl. For this parfait I used a fresh peach, mandarin oranges, Fage yogurt, a tablespoon of honey, and vanilla granola.

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I mixed the honey with the yogurt to add a little sweetness to the plain yogurt. Next layer all the ingredients and enjoy for a yummy breakfast!

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Next up, one of Jon and my favorite things. Mojo chicken! One of my Dad’s special cooking secrets is a marinade called Mojo. You can find it at most grocery stores. It is a delicious combination of garlic, onion, citrus fruits and spices.

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I marinate and cook chicken in the Mojo almost every week because it pairs well with a lot of different sides. Mojo chicken also is delicious in an arugula salad. All you have to do is marinate the chicken, saute the chicken in a heated skillet and serve over arugula, fresh cherry tomatoes and a little feta.

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Last but certainly not least is a summer favorite, iced tea. I made a raspberry iced tea and sweetened it with a bit of lemon. It is my Mom who gave me the idea to brew tea bags to make iced tea. I bought decaf so I can enjoy it at any time of the day. Brew the tea bags in boiling water and then add more water to dilute the mixture. Once chilled, add a few slices of fresh lemon and enjoy!

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I hope you are soaking up the last days of summer, wearing your white jeans and enjoying those last late summer sunsets!

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