Tag Archives: summer

Win This Big ‘Ole Applegate Weinervention Sweepstakes to Save Your Hot Dog Lovin’ Soul

This sweepstakes is done in partnership with Applegate, but is not sponsored. We were provided complimentary product for review, but were not obligated to enjoy the ever loving heck out of it. Since we did, they said we could share the love with you.

kacy applegate

Hot dogs. Bare feet. Summertime. It’s a perfect recipe for the best three months of the year.

Unfortunately, the recipe in most hot dogs looks more like the seedy bowels of a dark, cold winter. Who knows what is actually in those things?!

But the folks at Applegate get it right. Super right. It’s like they invented the hot dog. Sadly, they did not. They did, however, make them so much better. Like way better, better enough that you won’t cringe watching your kids bite in to them.

applegate hot dogs

“Looking more like strawberry frosting than blended meat and bone bits…” writes Treehugger about what’s actually inside the standard hot dog, “the country’s most beloved tube of meat.” There’s mechanically separated meat (or pink slime) from a few animals that could include cow, pig, chicken, or turkey. Don’t forget the corn syrup, flavor additives, tons of sodium, and a whole host of other preservatives and the like. Yuck.

Applegate Naturals Beef Hot Dogs are “cleaner weiners.” They have a super simple list of uncured beef, water, and six seasonings. That’s it! Even my four-year-old can digest this list (and so can her tummy!). They’re tasty and juicy, the way a hot dog should be. They also don’t have that typical gnarly hot dog smell, phew! We felt better eating these since they weren’t stocked with nasty junk. (more…)

5 Summer Foods That Keep Your Metabolism Burning

You may think all that sweat your body is producing in this hot summer sun is dirty, sticky, and stinky, but it’s actually one of the best things your body can do for itself. Sweat pushes toxins out of your body, it cleanses and opens up your pores, and it can even help maintain or give a boost to your metabolism. Damp skin is a sign your body is working hard in all the right ways!

Give your body a reward for its efforts by nourishing it with in-season summer produce. Not only will foods like asparagus, spinach, and berries fuel your body with vital nutrients and properly and naturally cleanse your body, but some of these summer foods will keep your metabolism revved up, too.

jalapenos cherry limeade

Peppers. These spicy bites can put a few drops of sweat on your forehead, but the capsaicin chemical inside is also known for heating up your metabolism (even hours after you’ve eaten!). The capsaicin in jalapeños, habaneros, and serranos reduces inflammation, relieves sinus pain, and can take down a headache. Add some heat to your next dish or drink, like our Fizzy Jalapeno Cherry Limeades or  Watermelon Jalapeño Mojitos. (more…)

The Freshest Produce Picks for Early Summer: Here’s What’s Ripe in June

By Team Best Life 

Nothing says summer like a garden full of fresh vegetables or a farmers market bursting with juicy, in-season fruit. It’s hard to beat the taste of a just-picked sweet tomato or a fragrant strawberry. Whether you eat them plain or toss them into a favorite dish, they’re sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.

Ready to kick off the summer? Try one of our four favorite June produce picks:

broccoli

Broccoli.  If you grow your own in a garden, you’ll likely start to see small heads soon. For a more tender and mild taste, try to harvest the heads and leaves before they grow too large. Don’t have a green thumb? Look for small heads of broccoli at your local farmers’ market early in the season. Use them to whip up this Fresh Broccoli Salad, which makes for a healthy barbecue side dish.

 

raspberries

Raspberries.  You can get most berries year-round, but early season raspberries are especially delicious. Look for black raspberries, which are available in many parts of the country in June. In this Raspberry Pistachio Chickenthey make a tasty topping. (more…)

The 6 Most Important DOs and DON’Ts of Summer Sun Care

How well do you know sun fact from sun fiction? As we start spending more time outside enjoying the warmer weather, it’s important to have our stats straight when it comes to keeping our skin protected and healthy.

the sun

Here are some definite Dos and Don’ts to having fun in the summer sun:

DO: Wear sunscreen no matter what your age.
Some people think that most of their sun exposure happens before they are 18, so once they hit adulthood they don’t need sunscreen. However, that couldn’t be more false. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that you only get about 23 percent of your lifetime sun exposure by 18, so be sure to put sunscreen on no matter your age.

(more…)

Sip on This: Fresh Strawberry Balsamic Drizzle Milkshakes

My favorite dessert started as something I didn’t even think I’d like. Friends presented a bowl with vanilla ice cream and strawberries and a dark, seemingly chocolate glaze poured over the top. But it didn’t smell like chocolate, and I knew the move was far too pedestrian for these foodies. They said it was a balsamic vinegar syrup. I loved balsamic — I mean, I could seriously drink the stuff! — but I wasn’t sure how that was going to go with dessert.

strawberries balsamic

Well, I’m here to tell you it was like sky rockets in flight, after dinner delight all up in my mouth! It’s become my go-to dessert for dinner guests when I want something that appears super fancy but takes less than five minutes to prep and assemble.

Yes, fancy and five minutes in the same sentence!

strawberry balsamic milkshake

This summer, I’ve decided to make my favorite dessert a bit more portable. You can’t really bob around in the pool with a big bowl of ice cream, but you can certainly float with a Strawberry Balsamic Drizzle Milkshake in your hand. Or at least I will. I won’t tell you how to spend your swim. (more…)

Juicy Watermelon Jalapeno Twist Mojitos are the Official Cocktail of Summer

Nothing looks, tastes, or smells as much like summer as watermelon does. Maybe sunblock, but you can’t, and really shouldn’t, drink that. That hot pink melon just screams hot, summer days! Get as much as you can because it’s so hydrating; I don’t care who you are, that juice is going to run down your chin and arms!

Watermelon is as much a staple in our house in these warm months as is a good cocktail. I love nothing more than to gather friends on our patio and share a delish homemade cocktail. After our first round of watermelon mojitos, I’ve declared these the official drink of summer 2014!

watermelon mojito

The first sip garnered oohs, ahhs, and even a “oh that’s the stuff!” The muddling gives you a solid upper arm workout while the jalapeno is hot enough to keep your metabolism on its toes. I’m not trying to pass off a cocktail as being a part of your summer workout plans, but those facts alone make this drink seem like a no brainer, right?

watermelon jalapeno mojito

To really make the flavor pop, you’ve gotta muddle. (more…)

The More the Berrier with Summery Blueberry Muffin Tops

The best part of the pizza? That very first bite of the pointy triangle end.

The best part of a cinnamon roll? The ooey-gooiest center.

The best part of the muffin? The top. Duh!

blueberry muffin tops

My completely made up statistic that 99.5 percent of people would rather eat the top of the muffin exclusively, rather than what a friend of mine calls “the stump,” is the reason an entire pan has been created to let you accomplish such baked good sorcery. There’s no waste; just bake the part people actually want to eat!

I know it’s warming up outside and the last thing you want to think about doing is firing up the oven. But berries are in season! So, you kind of have to. Rules and what not.

blueberry muffin tops pan

Blueberries are one of those can’t-fail foods, at least from a mom perspective. I don’t care what my four-year-old’s mood is, what she is or isn’t liking that week, or where we are — blueberries always get a yes. They are one of the original super foods, so it’s a no brainer to add them to pancakes, salads, smoothies, or just devour a fist-full every chance you get. One of the few, rare “blue” foods that occur in nature, those juicy little beads of sweetness can stand on their own with a healthy dose of fiber, a bit of protein, potassium, vitamin c, anthocyanins, antioxidants, and a host of other good-for-you goodness.

blueberry muffins

So when I tell you this recipe calls for blueberries, do not be shy. Dump ’em in! The more the berrier, right?

You’ll notice we don’t add any sugar to this recipe. A generous, drizzly pour of honey with some natural applesauce really take on the heavy responsibility of sweetening these muffins. It’s not a two-man job though, the lemon juice, vanilla yogurt, and of course the blueberries, all carry their own weight in that department, too.

honey and applesauce

However, just before baking, I do sprinkle the tops with just a pinch of raw turbinado sugar. This gives the muffin that glazy top that you’d ordinarily create with a streusel topping, but without gobs of butter and white sugar.

sugar topping muffins

I use half-and half all-purpose and whole wheat flours. This gives me the bulk of fiber in a better flour with the texture we’ve all become accustomed to with white flours. To make up the difference, I add just a bit of uncooked oats for more fiber and a denser bite.

baking muffin tops

After it’s all whisked and folded together, scoop that batter into a pre-formed muffin top pan. Roughly 20 minutes later, you’ll have a pile of muffin tops that are just jam-packed with blueberries! You’ll want to save them all for yourself, but they’re so darn cute that sharing will seem like a reasonable option, too.

Blueberry Muffin Tops
makes 6

INGREDIENTSmuffin tops recipe

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp honey
1 egg
1/4 cup natural applesauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz. vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp. raw turbinado sugar, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.

3. In a second bowl, beat the egg with the other wet ingredients.

4. Fold the wet ingredients in to the dry, then gently add the blueberries.

5. Lightly mist the pan with cooking spray, then add the batter. If you choose, sprinkle the tops with raw turbinado sugar.

6. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

ALSO TRY THIS!

Turkey Burger Sliders with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction

S’More Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe is In Season!

 

Recipe by Brandi Koskie; photos by Kacy Meinecke

 

DIY Flavor: The Best Herbs to Grow in Your Garden (or Window)

herbs

Have you ever considered getting into the whole herb gardening thing? I certainly have, but as always, I need a strong resource to wrap my mind around what is the easiest and most beneficial thing to grow at home. I didn’t find this quickie guide, so I did the research and created one for us all. It turns out herb gardening is easy and a super healthy and cost-effective way to add heapings of extra flavor to your food. Here are the best greens to grow in an indoor or outdoor herb garden. All you need to get started are a few pots, a little bit of soil and some seeds! 

 

basil

Basil
Basil is super easy to grow at home. All you need is some seeds and the sunlight. Basil is so versatile—use it in soups and salads or make pesto with it. It works great in Italian dishes (obviously) and it can add a fun flavor blast to stirfrys too! Basil is also awesome for clearing your skin and mellowing your stress. Who knew?

Try it in a summery peach caprese salad! (more…)

2 Bloody Good Summer Brunch Cocktails: Blood Orange Mimosa and Bloody Rosemary

It’s 5:00 somewhere has got to be the best excuse in the book to grab a drink. As I write this, it’s 5:20pm in Lisbon, Portugal. By that math I could have a wine with lunch. But people would scowl and wonder if I had a problem.

And I don’t. Really.

Fortunately, brunch has made it acceptable to start your day drinking a wee bit earlier than lunch and way earlier than 5:00. The happy hour rises at dawn with mimosas, bloody marys, and bellinis! They really can be the perfect complement to a late-morning meal of fresh asparagus and prosciutto crepes or hearty frittatas.

We’ve made over two of our favorite brunch cocktails – the mimosa and the bloody mary. They use whole, fresh ingredients rather than junky mixers and have inspired new tastes on standard classics.

blood orange mimosa

The Blood Orange Mimosa uses three ingredients: Splashes of champagne, blood orange juice, and a hint of fresh basil. Your guests will be toasting you for this delightful addition to brunch. Prettier, sweeter, and possibly more refreshing than a basic OJ mimosa, this one is as charming as it is delicious. (more…)

Make This Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad with Blackberries and Grilled Baguette Croutons

Don’t you love those moments in the kitchen when inspiration strikes and the result is a meal or dish so outstanding that you have to shout it from the rooftops…or at least from your blog?

This salad is my most recent moment of a) we have nothing to eat, b) those tomatoes are going to go bad soon so I should use them, c) and I guess I have some greens, too, d) and what about blackberries…

roasted tomato salad

You know the drill. This time, a Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad was the result of desperate brainstorm. And if this is the result, let desperation be your muse always!

I had these baby heirloom tomatoes just begging to be eaten and every time I looked at them – so tiny, so juicy, so pretty – all I could think was how incredible they’d be roasted. Drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and crushed garlic, my hypothesis was on the nose. The entire house was filled with their tantalizing aroma, their tender skins burst just right, and they became the shining star in an otherwise ordinary salad.

balsamic tomatoes

On a bed of fresh spring greens, I chopped bites of baby mozzarella. I like to buy as close to fresh as possible, which is the containers of mozzarella balls soaking in water. (more…)