Summer Grill Out Series

  I think one of my favorite things about summer eating is firing up the grill and eating outside.  I love the casual feel of a meal enjoyed outdoors.   My kids can play on their jungle gym while I man the grill, and for some reason, the evening breeze always lures me to linger just a bit longer over my food than if I were sitting inside staring at my messy kitchen …go figure.     Recently, a few friends and I gathered together for a grill out meal and we enjoyed it so much that I decided to recreate it for my family and then share it with all of you.   This is quintessential summer meal for me–a fresh summer salad and a smoky grilled entree with a little appetizer to nibble on while everything cooks.   I’ll be sharing these recipes in a three part series and hopefully you will be inspired to get out, fire up the grill, and spend a little extra time over a meal with some of your favorite people. IMG_9005    In my opinion, a truly good meal is made even better with a little munchie you can enjoy while you cook.  This Italian white bean dip hits all the right notes for me.  It’s not overly heavy and the cool and creamy texture is the perfect accompaniment to warm pizza bread.  If you want to be extra virtuous, you can definitely serve this with veggies, but if you’re throwing in a salad with the meal, I say go for the pizza bread!


Italian White Bean Dip and Pizza Bread


1 15 oz can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley 

salt and pepper

1 tsp Italian seasoning (plus more for pizza crust if needed)

1 recipe of gluten free or regular pizza crust mix (I used the Namaste pizza crust mix)


 Prepare the pizza crust according to the package directions.  If your mix is not already seasoned, I suggest adding 1 tsp Italian seasoning to the dough.  

  While the crust is baking, place beans, garlic, lemon juice, parsley and Italian seasoning in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse together until ingredients are combined and chunky.  Next, turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in olive oil until mixture is smooth and well combined.   If desired, drizzle additional olive oil on the top before serving.

  Cut pizza crust into small squares and serve warm along side the bean dip.

The Summer Face

I thought I would mix it up a little today and tell you what I’ve been wearing on my face lately.  In the summer, I like to use as few products as possible since the heat and humidity can cause heavier makeup to slide and cake up on your face. This summer, I am totally loving the monochromatic bronzed look because it is 1) super quick 2) incredibly easy- even for a total makeup novice- and 3) is a look that is easily dressed up for evening.   Golden/ bronzy tones are flattering on every skin tone, making this look very versatile.  It simply enhances your natural look and adds a little glow in just the right places.   Here’s what I use to achieve the look, but keep in mind that you can use similar products you already own to get the same result.


I start by smoothing a tinted sunscreen all over my face.  I’m really loving the Suntegrity 5 in 1 face sunscreen in the shade light.  I can usually pick it up at Dermstore for 20% off.  It is a mineral based sunscreen with an ultra pure ingredient list. It blends in seamlessly to the skin, blurring imperfections with minimal coverage.  If you have any blemishes, redness or dark under eye circles, you can also add a touch of concealer.  I’ve been using the Duo-Phase Concealer by Christopher Drummond Beauty and really like it.  You only have to use the tiniest amount (and I’m talking pin head sized) to get full coverage.

Next, I sweep a bronzer all along my cheekbones, on my temples and along my jawline.  Currently, I’m loving the RMS buruti bronzer because it gives a natural glow to the face without that disco ball effect you can get from shimmery bronzers.  As an added bonus, all of the RMS beauty line is formulated with completely natural ingredients that are good for your skin.

For the eyes, I keep things simple with a quick sweep of gold eyeshadow, some brow enhancing and tight lining across the upper lash line.  I got a freebie eyeshadow from Bare Minerals called Summer and it is seriously the most gorgeous mix of brown and gold.  It brings the perfect amount of light to the eyes, while still managing to look natural.   I then use an ashy brown shadow (Tease from the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette)  to fill in any sparse spots in my brows.  Defining your brows is a must with a minimal makeup look because it frames the face and brings attention to the eyes.  I tight line with a soft black pencil along the upper lash line to create the illusion of fuller lashes.  This also allows me to get away with a quick curl of my eyelashes and no mascara (i.e. no raccoon eyes from heat-induced runny mascara).

I usually finish off the look with an ultra sheer balm that has a slight peachy shimmer to it.  I’ve been using Brilliant Lip Boost from Gressa Skin, which is full of natural plant oils to keep my lips hydrated in the heat.

And there you have it…an ultra flattering summer look you can achieve in less than 5 minutes with just a few products.   Thanks for indulging me and letting me rant about the beauty products I’m currently loving.  I may pop a few of these posts in now and again if you don’t mind!


Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies

  Well folks, I back from a lengthy hiatus due to this precious little gem that joined our family on April 16th:   Little Ben totally lights up my life and is such a bundle of joy.  Our family praises God for such a precious gift and we are all totally in love.   But, […]

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Baby Boy’s Nursery

    Our little man is due in 5 days so I thought it would be fun to post a few pics of the nursery.  I used the same nursery décor for both of my girls so it was fun to mix it up a little bit for a boy.  For the most part, I like […]

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Cheesecake Dip, Two Ways

  With Easter just two short weeks away, the Easter brunch/dinner menu planning frenzy is sure to begin for many of us.  I think of Easter as sort of the official launch into spring cooking.  We put the heavy casseroles and hearty stews behind us and welcome in a lighter, more colorful fare.  You may […]

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Nutella Chocolate Pudding

I know, I know….it’s been far too long since I put something up on the blog.  I really don’t have a great excuse, but can I make it up to you by giving some chocolate? Doesn’t chocolate always make everything better?   And this is no ordinary chocolate pudding either.   The addition of Nutella […]

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Gluten Free Coconut Walnut Banana Bread

  I was perusing some of my fellow foodie blogs recently, and within a week, two of them posted about one of my favorite quick breads: banana bread.  However, they didn’t just stop with your plain ole’ banana walnut loaf.  They had to go and add coconut, one of my all time favorite foods.  I […]

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Italian Sausage, Noodle and Spinach Soup

Last week, the “real feel” in the Midwest was -40 degrees F.  I had a few appointments so I was forced to leave my house and within minutes my hands felt like I had been outside skiing for an entire day.  It was FREEZING!   And, while the temperatures have warmed up to a balmy […]

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Power Bites

Ok, I never thought I would say this, but I’m actually kind of getting sick of dessert.  You know it’s bad when you ask your kids what they would like for a snack and the only thing they can come up with is “a treat” or “chocolate.”  It’s definitely time to wind down off this […]

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My Holiday Baking List

I kind of procrastinated big time on my holiday baking this year.   Did anyone else feel like December was so short this year?  I kept thinking, “I have plenty of time,” only to realize that Christmas is next week!!!! Consequently, I’ve been in a bit of a baking frenzy this week.  Here are the […]

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