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We are officially two days away from one of the biggest grilling holidays. How excited are you? Hopefully as excited as I am.

We’ve already talked about how much I love the 4th of July but what I haven’t told you is that I’m approaching the holiday with a game plan. Because I have s’mores on my brain and I cannot even wait to roast a million marshmallows over the grill and then smush them in between graham crackers with all sorts of chocolate.

The best.

So my game plan is to cook healthy for our cookout to save calories/stomach space for the s’mores.

Enter this salad. I’ll be making this Blackened Chicken and Quinoa Salad because it’s healthy and filling and it has tons of flavors, textures, and basically all my favorite things.

So the base is quinoa and it’s tossed with a cilantro lime dressing. And then on top of that you put your Blackened Chicken. This grilled chicken is SO perfect. I used thighs because we prefer it over breasts but use what you like. The chicken is rubbed with a delicious mixture of spices and herbs and then it’s grilled until blackened. We’ve been grilling thighs like this every weekend to throw over salads and such during the week.

And then on top of the chicken, you layer avocado slices, mango, grilled corn, blueberries, feta, and more cilantro. I’m telling you, so much flavor going on here.

If you plan on grilling, you need to head over to The Home Depot and pick up the Kingsford Original Twinpack. It’s on sale for $9.88 through July 6, 2015 – over half off it’s usual price! That will keep you grilling for awhile!

Click here to find The Home Depot store closest to you so you can take advantage of this deal. Check out the Kingsford website for more ideas. And be sure to follow Kingsford on Instagram for even more inspiration. You can also find The Home Depot.

Blackened Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

For the chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the quinoa:
2 cups quinoa (cook according to package instructions)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
For the salad:
1 avocado, sliced
1 mango, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 grilled corn on the cob, corn kernels removed
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Instructions

    To grill the chicken
  1. Heat your grill to medium-high.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together paprika, cumin, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub onto all sides of chicken.
  3. Grill until the chicken is blackened and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before slicing.
  4. To prepare the quinoa:
  5. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Whisk in cilantro. Pour over quinoa, a little at a time until it reaches your desired amount, and stir to combine.
  6. To assemble:
  7. Spoon the quinoa onto your serving plate. Arrange the sliced chicken, sliced avocado, diced mango, diced bell pepper, corn kernels, blueberries, feta cheese, and cilantro over the quinoa.
http://fakeginger.com/2015/07/02/blackened-chicken-and-quinoa-salad/

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’m obsessed with bacon. I mean, I’m always obsessed with bacon but right now, I’m super obsessed.

One day last week I had bacon for every meal. There was a sweet potato and bacon hash for breakfast, I fried up some bacon for my lunch salad, and then for dinner I had bacon in my brussels sprouts. #paleo

I will put bacon on anything and everything. Even cake.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy bacon is on pizza. If you’ve ever seen any of my pizza Instagrams (they happen frequently), you know that I order my pizza exactly the same way every time. Barbecue sauce, ham, pineapple, tons of jalapeños, and BACON.

No one ever wants to share a pizza with me and I can’t figure out why.

Anyway, I’ve been switching things up recently and have found myself in love with Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza.

Except no one does a good cheeseburger sauce so I’ve been making this myself.

Cheeseburger sauce?

Yeah. Just ketchup and thousand island dressing. But it’s so good.

I’ve been using Wright® Brand Bacon for all my bacon needs. It’s so delicious and a great value at Walmart. Wright® Brand Bacon is a bigger better bacon so it’s perfect for lunch, dinner, or hey, even cake. I won’t judge you.

So this this pizza I used the cheeseburger sauce, the Wright® Brand Bacon, some ground beef, shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack, and topped it off with pickles.

This pizza is so delicious. My kids loved it, I loved it, there was none left for my husband to try. You know how we do things around here.

Click for the full recipe

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Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing - bacon makes everything better!

Yesterday I mentioned that our summer had been nutso but didn’t really tell you why.

So now we’re going to talk about Hurricane Sofia.

Yeah, the dog.

Less than two weeks after we adopted her, she broke her leg. Having a dog with a broken leg is, like, one of the most horrible things ever.

And no matter how many times the vet says, “It happens! Puppies are just like little kids – they break their limbs!”, I still cry “I’M AFRAID HER SPIRIT IS BROKEN!” every time we go in there.

Which, if you follow me anywhere, you know is a lot.

She’s on her 5th cast.

This is only the 3rd week of having a cast.

She ate the first one. She also ate the cone I put on her to keep her from eating it.

The second one just fell off. Literally just fell off.

While she was at the vet to replace the one that fell off, she chewed up the 3rd cast before they could get a cone her on. So they put another on.

And then she needed a bigger size last week.

5 casts.

The ironic part is that I totally sold my husband on the idea of another puppy by saying “We only have to pay the adoption fee! She’s already fixed and everything! She will be so cheap!”

Wrong.

So that’s taken up a good portion of the summer. I’ve seen the vet here more in 2 months than I saw our vet in Colorado in 4 years.

The summer hasn’t been all vet visits though. My husband’s sisters and their families came to visit last week which was a lot of fun. I had a delicious caprese salad one night when we all went out and fresh mozzarella has been on my mind ever since. I made this Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing for a late Sunday lunch/early dinner and it was so perfect. My husband and I just stood over the counter, sharing the serving plate. And lucky for me, he’s not eating cheese so I got all the mozzarella!

Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing - bacon makes everything better!

Click for the full recipe

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Guys, I love the 4th of July.

I’ll love it even more if I can ever decipher the local laws to see if we’re allowed sparklers. Because sparklers are MY FAVORITE THING EVER.

(Don’t tell me it’s too dry for fireworks here. All it does is rain.)

The 4th of July also means increased security on Fort Hood so I’ve said, “Really? You think I’m gonna bring bombs on post in a doorless Jeep?” three times in the last week.

I mean, I get it. We have to be careful. But a 30 year old (yeah, my birthday happened) mom with 3 dogs in her (doorless, windowless, topless) car shouldn’t set off the terrorist alarm every. single. time.

Yeah, I’m really hoping for some sparklers.

I think we’re going to have a very low key 4th, just us, at home. This past month has been insane – isn’t summer supposed to be stress free? So we’re probably just going to grill and try to catch the Fort Hood fireworks show from our backyard. (If there’s one – I am so out of the loop.)

I am really, really bad at themed food. I think you know this by now. But I can’t resist a red, white, and blue treat. These Mini Fruit Pizzas are just sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting, and fruit on top. But they’re so cute and really delicious!

Click for the full recipe

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Newman’s Own. All opinions are 100% mine.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe

Things that I love, in no particular order:

Bacon.

Ranch.

Pasta.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m ALL ABOUT the pasta salads. It’s my go-to summer side dish. Mostly because I always over cook potatoes for potato salad and who likes mushy potato salad?

Well, my 3 year old. But that’s beside the point. 

Anyway, because I’m making pasta salad every weekend this time of year, I’m always trying to come up with a new version or new stuff to put in it. This one was a definite winner over this past weekend. It’s got bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, and black olives. So all my faves! And then it’s tossed with my favorite ranch dressing by Newman’s Own.

You guys know I love Newman’s Own products and you probably also know that I’m obsessed with the salad dressings. I am in a full-on relationship with the Lite Honey Mustard – I can’t remember the last time I had a salad without it. Husband and I also love the Balsamic, Olive Oil and Vinegar, Family Recipe Italian, and Creamy Caesar. Plus, Newman’s Own has a bunch more that I haven’t even tried yet.

This post is about the Ranch though! I’m pretty particular about ranch (as everyone should be) and Newman’s Own definitely makes my favorite. It’s great tasting, high quality, and made from the finest ingredients. 

Plus, you can feel good about buying Newman’s Own because all profits go to charity. For more information, check out the Newman’s Own Facebook page or the Newman’s Own BuzzFeed Page.

And next time you pick up a bottle of Newman’s Own Ranch dressing, you should definitely try this recipe. It’s perfect for a party, potluck, barbecue, anything!

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe

Click for the full recipe

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