Archive for June 2016

Pineapple Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip

June 29, 2016

Make this Pineapple Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip with pineapple preserves and salsa over a block of cream cheese and some great crackers. Instant summer party food!

We recently visited a home & furniture store to look for a new area rug, couch slip covers, and browse the kitchen area. We stopped mid-way through our shopping trip to give the kids a bread and eat at the store's food area. We just ordered simple food: chicken and fries for the kids and Paul, and a BBQ chicken wrap for me. 

As we were eating, I noticed the kitchen workers were creating a small buffet table with a simple white tablecloth in the center of the food area. I watched as they brought out various cheeses and crackers, salads, deviled eggs, lemonade, and more along with some small green plants to decorate with.

Unfortunately for us, we were about 30 minutes too soon for an annual summer tasting party they throw for customers of the store. But it got me thinking, summer parties are SO fun because they can be SO simple! Everything is green outside with colorful blooming flowers. A small table with a simple solid colored tablecloth and some awesome finger foods and drinks - it's an instant party!

And what if it rains? Finger foods are perfect for parties held unexpectedly indoors! Create small conversation areas all over the main floor with a few chairs around two or three snacks at each area. Between weddings, graduations, and summer holidays, there's so much to celebrate and enjoy during the warmer months - and certainly not much needed to pull together a great party.

This Pineapple Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip comes together in mere minutes and is absolutely perfect for a simple summer party with friends! 

Pineapple Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip

Cooking Directions
  1. Place cold cream cheese block on a medium sized serving dish. In a small bowl, whisk together pineapple preserves and salsa. Spoon evenly over cream cheese. Arrange crackers around dip and provide a cheese spreader to serve to guests immediately.
It's amazing to me how delicious this cheese spread is given how simple it is to create! I love the cold cheese with the sweet and tangy flavor of the pineapple salsa combination. It goes perfectly with Dare Cabaret Crackers and Dare Breton Original Crackers!

Whether you're planning a big party for a major event, or just a small get-together with friends, Dare's variety of crackers make each bite better! I can't wait to try the other mouthwatering varieties of crackers they have available, perfect for cheeses, dips, and canapes! Dare offers lite-bite dining options to make entertaining a bit better, as well.

What simple appetizer recipe would you use with these amazing crackers? Let me know in the comment section below, I love getting new appetizer ideas!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Cheesy Bacon Zucchini Skins

June 28, 2016
Tracking Pixel
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield.

Use that over abundant backyard vegetable garden to make these Cheesy Bacon Zucchini Skins! Loaded with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, green onion, and dipped in sour cream - these are the low carb version of potato skins you've been looking for!

Every year about this time I hear of these "rumored" zucchini plants in everyone's gardens. They apparently grow so easily and abundantly that you all search the web for lots of recipes to use them up.

Not that I would know about that, or anything.

I'm AWFUL at growing things, at least from seed. I'm okay for the most part starting with a small plant, but I have been known to kill those also. Pretty much the only two things I've ever been successful at growing, or more like maintaining, were cherry tomatoes and basil. 

So of course I was thrilled to be gifted pumpkin seeds in front of my kids by a local park, encouraging us that "now is the perfect time to plant pumpkins for fall!" Super cute summer learning activity, of course, kudos given from this former elementary teacher. But inside my heart sank a bit! I let the news to them gently that we will try growing them, but that we'd probably buy our pumpkins this year like we do every year because Mommy does not have a green thumb of any kind. Wesley told me that it's ok, he has a green thumb because he grew me a marigold for Mother's Day from a seed. Hopefully he'll rub off a bit on me with these!

I WILL, however, enjoy the fruits (or vegetables, as the case may be) of your labor and cash in on the cheap zucchini at every supermarket and farmer's market right now, as well as any friends decide to give to us. Zucchini all the things I say!! Who's with me?!

These Cheesy Bacon Zucchini Skins are AMAZING and they're a great low carb alternative to everyone's favorite potato skins appetizer. Dip these guys in sour cream or ranch dressing, the choice is up to you!

Cheesy Bacon Zucchini Skins

Cooking Directions
  1. Chop bacon and saute in a frying pan over medium heat until crispy, drain on paper towels.
  2. Slice zucchini in half length-wise. Cut in half and cut off the ends, creating 4 skins from each zucchini, 12 skins total.
  3. Using a large spoon, firmly scoop out the white part of the zucchini leaving about 1/4" inside the skins. Discard zucchini insides and place skins cut side up on a large cookie sheet.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes or until cheese is done and zucchini is just slightly soft (they should still have a slight raw crunch to them).
  5. Allow to cool 5 minutes before topping with green onion and serving with sour cream or ranch dressing to dip.

Paul and I LOVED these as a fresh, summer snack - but I could totally see making a larger batch and serving these guys for dinner. And of course, these would be perfect for summer parties and barbecues!

Having used Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon in the past and in this recipe, it's definitely the bacon I grab regularly at the store - we usually go for bacon with classic scrambled eggs at least once each week. I really love their varieties available including Hometown Original, Thick Cut, Applewood, and Cherrywood because you can tell from the flavor why Smithfield is known for being smoked and cured to perfection. For even more yummy recipe ideas, visit or

What's your favorite summer recipe with bacon? Leave your inspiration in the comment section below!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield.


Strawberry Blueberry French Toast Casserole

June 27, 2016
This sweet Strawberry Blueberry French Toast Casserole is layered with crusty bread, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and maple syrup. Perfect for summer berry picking season!

The boys and I have so much fun picking berries in the summertime. I'm so lucky and fortunate that we've always lived near an orchard or farm where we can go and pick berries never far from our house. In fact, at our old house there was a strawberry farm maybe 5 minutes down the road from us. From about mid-June through mid-July as we would pass the farm, we could see people with their berry baskets filling them up. Whenever I see the strawberry picking sign up, I know it's officially summer!

Last week was the first official week of summer, at least for our family. We're starting to settle into our new home and I had planned a busy week for us. Signing up for the local library reading program on Monday, morning trip to the waterpark on Wednesday, renting Zootopia for a home movie night on Thursday, a family festival and fireworks on Saturday, and grilling out with friends yesterday.

Now THAT is what I call a full summer week! Needless to say, the berry picking I had planned was pushed off until this week - but I am determined to take these kids to a local orchard this week if it kills me! We didn't get a chance to go last year, and this year they are really curious and into growing plants. What better way to learn about them than to experience it first hand?

Plus, I get to make loads of tasty recipes with the berries, too - SCORE!

This Strawberry Blueberry French Toast Casserole is super easy, and it really highlights the sweet tart fresh summer berries. And I have to say, it's been wonderful having a breakfast casserole in the fridge for us to eat all week!

Strawberry Blueberry French Toast Casserole

  • 1 loaf french bread, sliced
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and diced
  • maple syrup
Cooking Directions
  1. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray and shingle slices of bread to fit into dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Add in 1 cup of brown sugar and spices and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour evenly over bread in dish. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to allow bread to soak up egg mixture.
  4. Sprinkle pecans over bread. Combine melted butter and remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, pour over casserole.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle berries over top of casserole. Bake an additional 5-8 minutes or until berries are soft and edges of casserole are bubbly.
  7. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving with a drizzle of maple syrup. *Recipe adapted from Gooseberry Patch Sunday Dinner at Grandma's cookbook.

This breakfast casserole is perfect for company, too - yum!

Here are some more of my favorite breakfast recipes:

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crescent Danish

Chocolate Chip Avocado Muffins

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

4th of July Ice Cream Cake

June 20, 2016
This Fourth of July Ice Cream Cake is made with ice cream sandwiches, hot fudge sauce, caramel ice cream topping, and Cool Whip! The perfect summer dessert recipe!

Moving sucks, you guys. So, so bad! We are now settling into our new house. This time around we decided to save some money and UHaul it - which was a mistake. We are not professional movers so we had no idea how to pack the truck correctly.

Let's just say last Sunday we pulled away with about HALF of our belongings still in our old house. It only took us 4 more DAYS and another van rental to finally have all of our stuff in our new house. I'm saying this loud and proud: NEVER AGAIN.

We're looking forward to summer 2016, a little apprehensively, but excited still. After two amazing years at our little church in central PA, Paul has be reappointed to a new church almost an hour away. When you're a Pastor's family, when he moves churches, we move to the new church, too. Change for me is scary, but I'm excited for this change, too. It's a weird emotion to have!

But for the time being, we're going to celebrate summer with these three goofy boys of ours and just rest in what God is doing for our family. There's not much time or energy left for worrying about the future when our days are filled with these crazy kids, that's for sure!

This 4th of July Ice Cream Cake is perfect to celebrate summer with your kiddos!

4th of July Ice Cream Cake

  • 12 ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped
  • 12 oz hot fudge sauce
  • 11 oz caramel ice cream topping
  • 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
  • sprinkles
Cooking Directions
  1. Fit ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish tightly against each other (I did 4 rows of 3 sandwiches length-wise).
  2. Warm hot fudge sauce in the microwave for 15 seconds and pour evenly over sandwiches. Warm caramel topping 15 seconds and pour evenly over hot fudge sauce.
  3. Spread thawed Cool Whip over cake and decorate with sprinkles. Freeze for 2 hours before slicing and serving. Keep leftovers in the freezer.

This cake is gooey and SO GOOD! I plan on adding chopped Reese's Cups in the middle of this cake next time, YUM!

Here are some more of my favorite patriotic desserts:

Red, White, & Blue Cheesecake Torte

Patriotic Ice Cream Soda

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad - VIDEO

June 16, 2016
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TimelessPizza #CollectiveBias

This Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad features tri colored rotini pasta with pepperoni, mozzarella, cheddar, and tomatoes in a Parmesan vinaigrette. This Italian pasta salad variation is the perfect summer side dish recipe!

Play the new video below to see how to make my Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad recipe in action - it's so easy!

Pizza Pasta

There's so much in the summertime to celebrate, isn't there? Memorial Day, graduations, Father's Day, 4th of July... we even have some summer birthdays in our family to add to that mix! Not to mention the many beautiful, sunny days that just get us all in the mood to get together and enjoy our family and friends. Our family calendar is pretty packed this summer, and I love it!

No large vacation for us this year, moving to a new house was eventful enough for us. But we're planning lots of day trips, playground visits, and spending time with family and friends this summer. When I asked the boys what special things they'd like to do this summer, they listed fishing, mini golf, and bowling. So I'll definitely be attempting to cross off those three on their summer bucket lists - I have to admit, they all sound like lots of fun to me, too!

Pizza Italian Pasta Salad

We're all so relaxed in the summer, we tend to make the same types of foods at picnics and BBQs. It's hard to not get into a rut of bringing the same boring meats and salads to warm-weather parties. Not only that, but sometimes I just don't have the time to put together a full meal for a bunch of friends and kids coming over the house.

Summer pizza party to the rescue! I mean, is there anything easier than that?! A few frozen Red Baron pizzas, with a variety of topping options, and paired with my new favorite Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad and have your family come together over the timeless pizza!

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad


Pizza Pasta Salad features tri colored rotini pasta with pepperoni, mozzarella, cheddar, and tomatoes in a Parmesan vinaigrette.

Prep time: , Cook time: , Total time:
Yield: 16 Servings

16 oz tri-colored rotini
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 oz cubed mozzarella cheese
8 oz cubed sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
3 oz sliced pepperoni, halved
  • Cook rotini in a pot of boiling water for 7-9 minutes, or until done. Drain and rinse pasta under cold water until cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, parmesan cheese, vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Place cooked pasta, vinegar mixture, and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, turning to coat all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

    Pizza Salad

    This is honestly the BEST Italian pasta salad recipe! And a wonderful addition to a summertime pizza party, too!

    Italian pasta salad recipe

    I love being able to grab our favorite Red Baron Classic 4 Cheese Pizza and Red Baron Classic Pepperoni Pizza during my normal grocery shopping trip to Walmart. It makes my life so much easier during the week and my family loves it! I'm all about the quality of the crust, not too thick or thin, but still crunchy. The Classic Crust is crunchy with airy, flaky layers that are perfect with the pizza flavors. Red Baron has been around for 40 years and our family can only hope they'll be around for 40 more with this awesome frozen pizza! 

    Pizza Pasta Salad recipe

    Don't forget to grab this special Ibotta offer for your next trip to Walmart and be sure to follow Red Baron on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube for more yummy ideas!

    Pasta salad with italian dressing

    What flavor of Red Baron pizza will you be picking up for your summer pizza party? Leave your answer in the comment section below!


    Tropical Pineapple Coconut Crisp

    June 9, 2016
    Fresh pineapple tossed in lime juice and topped with brown sugar, oats, and coconut. This fresh fruit cobbler is perfect for summer picnics and parties!

    We are in the middle of getting ready to move and last night I was up late taking down and packing up all of our wall decor. About 4 years ago I had purchased a custom gallery wall frame set from an Etsy shop called Hyde & Chic Boutique

    It was well worth the money because it was the focal point of our living room and one of the first things you could see as you walked into our little townhouse. I absolutely loved this series of photos of our family that we took in my parent's backyard in 2013.

    It was so depressing taking these frames down last night! I'm very thankful that a larger house within our monthly budget came up and I'm looking forward to moving in and having a little more space. But this wonderful little house isn't our home anymore and I'm really sad about that! We had some amazing memories in this house and met some amazing new friends - I will always look back fondly at our time here.

    But you know, just like this house, those four people in those beautiful frames are not the same people anymore. The boys are older, and so are we! Silas was still in preschool and Wesley was still in diapers. I was still a teacher and Paul wasn't a pastor yet. And above all, there's one amazing little thing missing from those photos... our Reuben!

    On the agenda this fall will of course be a new set of family photos, this time including all 5 of us now. I can't wait to see what adventures God takes us on in our new home and new ministry. Just, hopefully not as many roller coasters this time!! ;)

    This amazing dessert is the perfect pairing of tropical summer fruit flavors, and brown sugar oatmeal home-y goodness! Be sure to top it with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to finish it off!

    Tropical Pineapple Coconut Crisp

    • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cubed (this pineapple peeler is awesome!)
    • OR 20 oz can pineapple chunks, drained
    • 1 tablespoon lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup cold butter
    • 1/3 cup coconut
    • whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
    Cooking Directions
    1. Stir coconut with lime juice and cornstarch. Spread into the bottom of a glass pie plate.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form.
    3. Sprinkle evenly over pineapple. Sprinkle coconut over top of crumble mixture.
    4. Bake at 375 for 15 - 20 minutes or until coconut is toasted. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving topped with whipped cream or cold ice cream.

    This was one of those desserts that not only made the whole house smell wonderful, but I kept coming back sneaking forkfuls as I walked through the kitchen!

    Here are some more of my favorite summer desserts:

    Pineapple Mango Banana Bread

    Chilled Fruit Salad

    This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

    Shrimp Scampi Stuffed Mushrooms

    June 6, 2016
    This post has been sponsored by SeaPak. All opinions are my own.

    Easy frozen shrimp scampi with panko bread crumbs, green onion, cream cheese, and parmesan stuffed into white mushrooms and topped with shrimp. These are the perfect bite size summer meal or appetizer recipe!

    Summer has officially begun here in the Miller household! Silas' last day of first grade was today and Wesley had finished his year of preschool two weeks ago, so you could say these kids were excited this afternoon - but that would be a MAJOR understatement!

    This is the first summer that Silas is a reader. Last year he had done really well to learn his Kindergarten sight words and didn't complain *too much* when we had him take a break from playing and practice them. We did our best to follow the reading incentive at the local library, but it was mainly us reading to him. This year I know, as a former teacher, how vitally important it is to keep him active with reading during the summer. Thankfully, he is really starting to enjoy reading on his own!

    Our local library is holding all sorts of fun summer activities to get the kids excited over reading, and I've FILLED our calendar for the next 2 1/2 months. Between library trips, daily reading time, and trips to the local amusement park, that leaves very little time spent in the kitchen cooking! I'm looking for some really yummy, but quick meals that I can make with limited time on my hands.

    These Shrimp Scampi Stuffed Mushrooms are the perfect summer dinner or appetizer! We really enjoy fun, bite-sized dinners in the summer paired with fresh fruit or a salad. Of course these are absolutely perfect for parties, too - each bite is bursting with shrimp scampi flavor!

    Shrimp Scampi Stuffed Mushrooms

    • 16 whole white mushrooms
    • 12 oz frozen SeaPak Shrimp Scampi
    • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
    • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon fresh minced basil
    Cooking Directions
    1. Wash mushrooms well and remove stems. Chop enough stems to fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup, discard the rest. Place caps onto a lined cookie sheet and set aside.
    2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add frozen shrimp scampi and chopped mushroom stems. Saute for 5-4 minutes or until shrimp is almost cooked through. Add bread crumbs and green onion and saute an additional 1-2 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the shrimp is cooked.
    3. Remove skillet from heat and allow to cool slightly.
    4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together cream cheese, Parmesan, and basil.
    5. Reserve 16 shrimp from the scampi mixture to a small bowl. Pour the remaining shrimp scampi mixture into the cream cheese mixture and blend well.
    6. Evenly stuff mushroom caps with filling, topping each with a reserved shrimp.
    7. Drizzle any remaining pan sauce over mushrooms. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

    I wish you could reach through the screen and grab one of these guys, they taste absolutely amazing!

    Is there a better time to enjoy our seafood favorites than the summer time?? I think not! It's certainly our family's favorite food this time of year! After a full day of fun in the sun, I love to come home to a quick seafood dinner. I love the wide variety of seafood options SeaPak has available in the frozen food section of the grocery store - click on the product locator here

    The USDA recommends at least two 4 oz servings of seafood each week - I'm loving that recommendation! What is your favorite way to enjoy seafood in the summer with your family? Leave your answer in the comment section below, I'd love to hear from you! Be sure to follow SeaPak on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more yummy recipe inspiration!