The Chef Next Door

Blueberry Buckle

Sweet, juicy blueberries are the star of this delicious crunchy and crumbly streusel topped cake!  
Now that summer is really and truly officially here in Michigan, fresh fruits are plentiful in farmers markets and stores all around town. The first thing I see when I walk in is beautiful berries, and I am a sucker for berries of all kinds.

I came home the other day with two giant containers of blueberries, not sure exactly what I was going to make at first, but it really didn't matter. I knew that my family would easily eat them right up. From topping my yogurt to tossing them in our morning smoothies, we had half a container gone in no time.

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

A salty pretzel crust followed by a layer of sweet cream cheese, then topped with a luscious strawberry topping, 
is the perfect side dish or dessert all summer long! 

I have a very small family, I'm an only child, so growing up our holiday gatherings always included extended family like my cousins, aunt, uncle and grandparents. With my mom's family living down South, and just my dad's family here in Michigan, our gatherings still weren't very big. But whether it was for Christmas or Easter, or even 4th of July, we always got together to celebrate.

It seems like each of the ladies in the family had a special dish they made. During the summer months it was my mom's famous potato salad; my aunt's delicious cheesy potatoes; and my grandma's strawberry rhubarb pie with rhubarb fresh from her garden. One of the other favorites was my mom's strawberry pretzel salad, and she still continues to make it to this day. Well, she still makes her amazing potato salad too, but this strawberry pretzel salad happens to be one of my kids favorites. You will find it on the table for any picnic, any potluck, any BBQ we are having. It's always there.

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Vanilla Coconut Flour Cupcakes

Celebrate the 4th with these naturally gluten free delicious vanilla cupcakes made with coconut flour!
Vanilla Coconut Flour Cupcakes | The Chef Next Door

Although summer just started, it already seems to be flying by! June is almost over and July is right around the corner, which means the 4th is close, too. Do you have any plans to celebrate? We typically have family over for a BBQ, then go somewhere later that evening to watch the fireworks show. 

My kids and I are all working hard to eat better this summer, and to get outside and be more active. We all know how much I love to bake, so I decided to develop a few dessert recipes that were on the lighter side, just a bit healthier if you will.

Strawberry Lime Pops

Beat the heat this summer with these simple, fresh, and delicious Strawberry Lime Pops!
Strawberry Lime Pops | The Chef Next Door

Hot and humid summer days call for cold and refreshing snacks. Frozen treats to be exact. And what's even better is when those treats are homemade, like these deliciously fruity strawberry lime pops. Made with just a few simple ingredients, you can't go wrong. No added preservatives, artificial flavors, corn syrups, etc. Just real fruit and a little bit of sugar. That's it. 

These pops are so simple to make - whip up a quick batch of simple syrup, then pop the cooled mixture into a blender with some sliced, fresh strawberries and the juice of a couple fresh limes. Blend it well, then add it to your popsicle mold. Freeze for a few hours and voila! Real strawberry lime pops made with fresh summer fruits. What's better than that?

Raspberry Honey Cornbread Muffins

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for P.A.N. Cornmeal. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

These tender and sweet cornbread muffins go perfectly with any barbecue or southern style dish!

Growing up with family in Louisiana, I'm used to eating a lot of Southern foods and Southern dishes. Catfish, hush puppies, cornbread, sweet tea....all that delicious stuff. My grandparents lived there during my childhood so I spent a few weeks down there almost every summer. I'm fortunate I learned to cook some of that deliciousness from my grandma and mom, too!

I've always cooked with cornmeal, but I recently discovered a new ingredient that has quickly become my new favorite pantry staple, P.A.N. Cornmeal. Already a staple ingredient in most Venezuelan homes, it's now making its debut in the U.S. and has proven an ideal addition to many American pantries. P.A.N. Cornmeal is the number one cornmeal in South America.