Pluot, Goat Cheese and Walnut Summer Salad

First of all, Happy Labor Day! I’ve made you the perfect salad to bring to the BBQ today. Because, if you’re like me, you totally need to bring something to, like, every gathering, ever. And this is a perfect last minute dish.

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Not to brag, but this miiiiight just be the prettiest salad I’ve ever seen. I mean, just LOOK at those colors! It’s to pluots. They totally make the salad special.

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What’s a pluot, you ask? It’s this crazy hybrid of plum and apricot. It’s a pretty pink little ball of sweet deliciousness, and it’s perfect here.

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Throw in some goat cheese and candied walnuts with them and it’s an amazing, refreshing summer salad (you could use regular walnuts, but, lets be honest, candied is always better). Oh yeah, and greens. Lots and lots of greens.

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All this salad needs is a simple, three ingredient dressing over the top, because the rest of it is just that good.  Seriously, If you’re in need of a salad for a crowd, today or any other day, this is a great option. You’ll be a very popular guest at any BBQ! Hope you are all soaking up the last of summer and enjoying a beautiful Labor Day!


Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves about 10-15 people


  • 4 bags prepared mesculin greens
  • 2 plutos, diced
  • ½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup candied walnuts
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Toss all of the ingredients for the salad together in a large bowl. Whisk together ingredients for the dressing. Toss salad with dressing just before you’re ready to serve and add salt and pepper to taste.


Slow Cooker Coca-Cola Pulled Pork

I LOVE pulled pork.

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I’m, like, totally not your typical pulled pork kind of gal. But when meat is this good, I can be any kind of gal you need me to be.

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I’m not sure if it’s the way it smells, the texture, the way it reminds me of Football Sundays. I definitely love how easy it is to make; literally a “set it and forget it” deal.

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I ate my pulled pork on kale with avocado because I’m a vegetable freak, but this would be amazing on pretty much any kind of roll or bun you can find. Or by itself. I’m pretty sure this would even be amazing on ice cream. Like, 95% sure.

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Regardless, this pulled pork is the prefect meal  in every way. It’s great for a lazy day at home and also prefect for a crowd. It makes your house smell like a delicious, spicy meat house (which is definitely a good thing). The ingredient list is short, so it’s wallet friendly, too! Really, dinner doesn’t get much better than this.


Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: At least 8 hours, preferably overnight | Total time: At least 8 hours

Yield: About 6 servings, depending on the side of the pork shoulder

  • 1 (5-7 lb) pork shoulder with a good layer of fat on one side
  • 2 large white onions
  • 1 can of coke
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 bottle of BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)

Cut up one of the onions and lay over the bottom of your slow cooker. Season the outside of the pork shoulder with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker on top of the onions. Add another layer of onions on top. Pour the coke  in to the slow cooker. You want the liquid to go about 2/3-3/4 of the way up the slow cooker, but now more because, as it cooks, the shoulder will release it’s own juices, and you don’t want your cooker to overflow! Set your cooker on low, cover and heat for at least 8 hours,  but preferably overnight.

Shred the pork with a fork, removing the fat as necessary. Add in the BBQ sauce and stir. Heat on low until ready to serve. Your house will smell amazing and keeping your fork out of the bowl will be nearly impossible.

Peach Crumble Bars

Ok, you guys. This is it. School starts today. Ew.

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It’s not that I don’t love school and learning and advancing the nursing profession (because who doesn’t love that??). I do. I really do. But working 36 hours a week and taking 4 classes makes for a fairly hectic schedule. I needed something to cheer me up and take my mind off the impending life-craziness.

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So, Peach Crumble Bars. Naturally. Peaches are so hot right now, and I’d been dying to make something with them for days and days. These are prefect. The crust holds together sturdily on the bottom and is perfectly crumbly on top. The filling is sweet and tart, and I love the color I got from using white peaches.

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Even though late summer means classes starting up again, it means peaches are in season and I can make these fabulous bars. It definitely makes the end of August a little more bearable!

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Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 45 minutes | Total time (with cooling): about 1 hour and 30 minutes

Yield: at least 16  2×2 inch bars

Crust and Crumble

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg


  • 4 peaches, sliced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 º F. Butter an 8×8 baking pan and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in butter until it’s the size of small peas. Add the egg and mix together until just combined. Spoon half of the mixture in to the baking dish and press evenly in to the bottom of the pan.

Next, make the peach filling. In a large bowl, mix all of the filling ingredients together until blended and peaches are completely covered. Spoon filling over the bottom crust. Evenly sprinkle the rest of the crust mixture on top of the peaches. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the crumble is slightly golden brown. Remove and let cool completely before cutting.

Baked Eggplant and Zucchini Fries with Honey Mustard Aioli

Hello. My name is Jamie, and I am addicted to french fries.

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I’m definitely a non-discriminatory addict. I love regular fries, shoe string fries, seasoned fries, truffle fries, wedge fries. Sweet potato fries hold a special place in my heart, especially when eaten at Sweetwater’s in Burlington, VT.  The best fries I’ve ever had are at Caseus in New Haven. Try them. They’re amazing.

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But I can’t just stuff my face with fries on the reg (oh my god how awesome would that beeeeee). So, I needed to be creative and come up with a healthy alternative. Thus, baked eggplant and zucchini fries were born. Baked instead of fried, and real veggies as opposed to potatoes. Because, lets be honest, potatoes are kind of veggie impostors.

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I was nervous, but I LOVED these zucchini and eggplant fries. Zukes and eggplants are pretty hearty veggies and they held their shape well when baked at the high temp. The aioli for dipping was clutch. The spiciness of the mustard went perfectly with the little bit of onion powder and lemon pepper that seasoned the fries. They were perfect.

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For my fellow fry addicts out there, you need to try these. They’re a perfect alternate for the real deal when you feel like you need to behave yourself.

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Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 25-30 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 medium sized eggplant
  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 º F. Slice eggplan and zucchini in to homogenous strips, about 4 inches long and about 1/4-1/2 an inch thick. Place on baking sheet, drizzle on olive oil and add seasonings. Mix by hand then distribute the fries evenly over the baking sheet, keep in them all in one layer. If some of them are overlapping, just put them on an additional baking sheet; if they’re layered, they wont be crispy! Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned and crispy.

To make the aioli, simply mix the mayo, honey, mustard and vinegar together until smooth. And dip away!

Boozy Banana Cake with Coffee Rum Frosting

Forget all this healthy eating business. Sometimes a girl just needs some cake.

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Cake with booze.

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Sometimes a girl needs a cake with booze for no particular reason.

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I didn’t have a bad day, wasn’t celebrating anything. I just really wanted, no, NEEDED a boozy banana cake.

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Oh, and I had some overripe bananas lying around that were just begging to be used. And a nearly empty bottle of rum. So really I had no other choice but to bake this cake. Like, STAT.

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I’ve made many, MANY worse life choices. This cake was divine. It was soft, had a tender crumb, and I loved the subtle rum and coffee flavors. The coconut, walnuts and raisins added fantastic texture.

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And the frosting. Ooooohhhhhh my god the frosting. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life and be happy. I LOVED the coffee and rum flavors with the tang of the cream cheese; there was almost something maple-y about it, and I was totally digging it.

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So if you want a fancy cake for a celebration, need cake for therapy after a bad day, or just want cake because you just want cake, make this. For such a dramatic cake, it really comes together in no time. And since there’s banana’s in it, you could even have it for breakfast if you want and it would be totally fine… so I’ve heard…


Prep time: 20 minutes | Bake time: 35-40 minutes | Total time (with cooling and frosting): At least 2 hours

Yield: 12 (at least- this thing is huge)

Boozy Banana Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon strong coffee
  • 1 tablespoon  rum, plus additional for brushing ( I used Gosling’s Dark Rum)
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup rum soaked raisins

Coffee Rum Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 7-8 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup strong coffee
  • 1 tbsp rum (Again, Gosling’s Dark Rum)
  • Chopped walnuts, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 º F. Butter and flour three 8 inch round cake pans and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light at fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time until blended thoroughly. Add in vanilla, coffee, rum and banana and mix.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients and making sure to mix in between each addition until mixture has just come together (do not over-mix!). After the last addition of the dry ingredients, mix until just combined then fold in the coconut, walnuts and raisins. Divide the batter equally in to the three prepared cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove and place in freezer immediately to stop the baking process. After 30 minutes or so, remove cakes from pan and assemble the cake, or wrap in saran wrap and place back in the fridge to frost later.

To make the frosting, whip butter and cream cheese together until combined. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix on medium speed for about a minute. If frosting is too thick, add in a little more coffee, 1 tablespoon at a time. If too thin, add in a little more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.

To assemble the cake. place a layer flat side up on a plate. Brush with a little bit of rum (not too much though, we’re not in college anymore). Frost with approximately 1/3-1/2 cup of frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat. Place the third layer on top with rounded side up for a more rustic look. Frost with remaining frosting, and make big swirls with your knife to complete that slightly messy look. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and place in fridge to let frosting set for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge about 20 minutes before ready to serve and enjoy!

Adapted from A Southern Grace.