Mint Lemonade Sparkler

Lemonade, it seems, ranges from being tart enough to make you pucker to super sweet, and everything in between.  This lemonade is an old recipe of my mom’s that she picked up somewhere and has become a staple at our summertime gatherings ever since.  The addition of orange juice concentrate to the mix mellows the tartness of the lemon juice and  steeping mint in the citrus mixture makes it so very refreshing!  I think it’s perfect.  In fact I like it so much that we mixed up a huge batch to serve our wedding guests as they waited for the reception to start while we took pictures after the ceremony.  

……Actually, I have no memory of preparing the lemonade that day, it just magically appeared after the ceremony as I had requested.   Which means that on top of everything else she had to worry about that day, my Mom was also mixing lemonade for 150 guests to fulfill another whim of the bride.   Now, 12 years later, I still think of that day every time I have a glass and it makes me smile.  :)  Thanks Mom (and your lovely friends who I’m sure helped)!  :)

Mint Lemonade Pot

The beauty of this mint-infused lemonade is that it makes a lemonade mix from frozen orange juice concentrate and bottled lemon juice so there is no squeezing of lemons involved! This makes a lot of lemonade mix, so it works great for a crowd!  Just combine the mix with equal parts water and you are ready to go!  In my version seltzer water and spirits give it some extra sparkle, so it was right at home at our July 4th picnic over the weekend.  Mint Lemonade Glasses

To start, dissolve some sugar in water.  Add all of your remaining ingredients and let it steep for 1-2 hours.  Strain the mint and your mix is ready! Combine it with plain water as called for in the original recipe or substitute seltzer water to make it fizzy.  A nice splash of triple sec and vodka make it a party!  Be warned: you can’t even taste the vodka so drink with care!

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Rainbow Veggie Quinoa Cups

If you’re not already on the quinoa cup train, hop on board!  I first pinned these from Iowa Girl Eats and let them languish on my Breakfast board for several months before I finally gave them a try.  I make little egg fritattas in muffin pans all of the time but despite putting quinoa in just about everything else, I was skeptical about adding it to eggs.  In the end, I’m so very glad I tried them because they have become a staple in my weekly meal plans.   

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Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Bars

We ate these bars for an entire week straight while I tinkered with the recipe, trying to find the very best ratio of melted to toasted marshmallows.  It’s a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it!  Don’t feel too bad for me; when it comes to taste-testing desserts, I will volunteer every time!  After several tries I got it just right.  Imagine then, my distress when I went to log on last Friday night so I could post these just in time for the holiday weekend and I found out that I was locked out of the blog for the next 84 HOURS! Apparently someone was trying to hack in.  I guess in some crazy way, I should feel flattered that something I have posted struck enough of a chord with someone that they felt it was worth their time to try to be a nuisance to my little blog.  Pat on the back for me!  

But back to more important things, like my s’mores bars.  This is what you need to know:

Toasted Marsh Smores 2

Toasted.  Marshmallows.  Toasted marshmallows.  Toasted marshmallow deliciousness.  

Toasted Marsh Smores

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Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

Last spring my sister introduced me to this Mediterranean Barley Salad and I made it often throughout the spring and summer.  Sadly, I always ate it alone because I am apparently the only one in my family that likes barley.  I know, I’m just as shocked as you are.  Who doesn’t like barley?  Well, maybe some people don’t.  If you are one of them, don’t give up on barley entirely!  In the meantime, maybe try this Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad instead.  Among some other swaps and changes, whole wheat pasta takes the place of barley and grilled lemon chicken is added because my husband considers any meal without meat to just be an appetizer.   Happily, it all worked and my new version is more family-friendly, at least for my family.  I make no guarantees for yours.  If there is one thing I know, it is that kids’ (and in my case, husband’s) tastes for things change by the hour and if you bet that they will like anything at any particular time, you will never ever win.  The silver lining here is that I’ll keep making barely and maybe one day they’ll change their mind and eat it!  I’m admittedly not holding my breath, so for the time being, I’ll just keep making this.  

Lemon Chix Pasta.Close

There are two things that I really love about this salad.  First, you mix up one vinaigrette and use it to marinate the chicken, season the tomatoes, and dress the salad.  Second, because arugula is a fairly firm green, the salad holds up well for a few days which is perfect for my Sunday meal prep day.   I make up a batch on Sunday and then I have it around to eat in different portions for lunch, a side at dinner, even one of my mid-day snacks during the week. 

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Avocado Lime Hummus

In the World According to Allison, nothing comes close to making me think of summer like avocados and lime.  If it was up to me, I’d put avocado and lime in everything.  Partly because I love the combination of creamy avocado and lip-puckering lime and partly because no matter what you put them in, the addition of avocado and lime makes any dish an automatic match for a margarita.  Don’t even get me started on those.  My love affair with margaritas will be a topic for another day, or several, likely.  But at risk of getting completely derailed, let’s get back to avocado and lime. 

Avocado Hummus.Bowl

First, however, we need to talk about hummus.  In what I am calling my Relatively Recent Recommitment to Health & Fitness, or RRRH&F, for short, I have tried adapting my diet to include 5 smaller mini meals instead of 3 ginormous ones.  I’ve been doing this for several months now, and I am consistently surprised by how little I need to eat and still feel satisfied.  The hardest part was resetting my brain to understand that I didn’t need a thermos of soup, plus a salad, plus yogurt, plus fruit, all for lunch.  I was eating healthy foods, just entirely too much of them at one time.  Which brings me to hummus.  It’s one of my go to snacks/mini meals because it’s delicious and it makes me want to eat fresh vegetables.  And because it’s one of those things you make a batch of at the beginning of the week and Bam!  You’re good to go for one of your daily snacks for the next few days. 

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