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My McCormick Gourmet "Longest Dinner Party Chain" dinner party!

Earlier this week I hosted a dinner party at my house as a part of McCormick Gourmet's Longest Dinner Party Chain. It was so much fun! I was so happy McCormick asked me to be a part of this dinner party chain. I have always loved to entertain, and as I have gotten older it has only become more fun. Creating good food is awesome, but creating it for others and watching others enjoy it is way more awesome.

Here is a photo of the many incredible items McCormick sent to me as a part of my dinner party kit! 

Spices, too! 16, to be exact.

YOU can be entered to win a similar kit. More on that in a bit.

First, please allow me to tell you about my dinner party!

I invited four friends over to make six adults, including my husband and myself. It was the absolute perfect mix of people because they were easy to please and they were great company. Thank you so much for being a part of my evening, Jesse, Jody, Jess, Trev and Dan! (Benji, Esme, Elijah and Sammy, too, of course, even though graham crackers and milk were more your style.)

My first course was a warm, creamy crab and artichoke dip, served with baked pita wedges and crackers. I loved the combination of McCormick thyme leaves and fresh parsley in this one. Also, artichokes and jumbo lump crab meat are two of my absolute favorites!

Printable recipe: Warm crab & artichoke dip

Dan and I love starting parties out with warm, gooey dips. Even on a hot summer day, it seemed fitting to keep with the trend. 

My second course was perhaps my favorite of the night, a fried tomato and and 2 fried scallops served over leafy greens. It was light, super tasty and perfect for summer. I love scallops, and I don't get the chance to eat them often enough. 

Printable recipe: Fried tomato & scallop salad

My third and fourth courses were served together. The main dish, sweet basil & oregano bruschetta chicken, was a recipe I borrowed from McCormick. It was delicious! The McCormick seasoning packet made this dish. I served along with it a side of grilled broccoli with McCormick crushed rosemary & feta cheese. (Please forgive me for forgetting the feta in the photos.) I am a huge broccoli lover and I think it is always such a delicious and pretty side dish.  

Printable recipe: Sweet basil & oregano bruschetta chicken

Printable recipe: Grilled broccoli with rosemary & feta

I had a very happy tummy at the end of the evening. 

And the dessert, oh the dessert. It didn't turn out exactly as I had wished because apparently I am not a skilled maker of caramel. I tried it twice with the same result. 

So here, friends, is a photo of a delicious salted caramel brownie that I wish had been a little more caramel-y and less sugary. I will say that the McCormick Sicilian Sea Salt I sprinkled on the top added just the perfect twist of salty that I was hoping for. 

I'm not going to post this one until I perfect the caramel layer, so check back!

And now for a few party pics! Jesse and Dan were responsible for these creative shots. Thanks for helping, guys. 

Food aside, it was great to bring friends together for an evening. Our children enjoyed running around outside in the heat, eating ice cream sandwiches, splashing in the blow-up pool and enjoying a show together. It was a perfect summer evening!

Would you like to have a chance to win a McCormick dinner kit? Visit the McCormick Gourmet Facebook page and submit an idea for what your dream dinner party would be! You will be entered to win a similar kit, but themed to a holiday of your choice. 

Good luck! And thanks for reading! 


Easy sautéed zucchini and mushrooms

It is the perfect day to post an easy recipe. My boys and I have been enjoying the Minnesota heat, so we have not had time for much else! I have so many wonderful recipes to share with you all, and they will come in the next few days. For now, here are some easy peasy delicious veggies!

I am the only person in my home who enjoys side dishes such as this one. Yay for me! 

Slice 1 large zucchini (ends removed) into 1/4-inch slices. 

Heat 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the sliced zucchini plus an 8-oz. package of sliced mushrooms (yum).

Cook, tossing occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften. I tend to like them on the slightly crunchy side, but the amount of cooking time is up to you.

Add salt and pepper and toss. Serve warm! Enjoy this heat!

Printable recipe: Easy sauteed zucchini and mushrooms


Giveaway winner announced!

Thank you to all of you who took my poll and entered the giveaway! I'm glad that none of my family members feel obligated to read. :) 

Commenter #46 was randomly selected as the winner of a $50 Visa gift card. 

Congrats, Brittany H! Email me your mailing address and I will put your $50 in the mail!


Blackeye pea salad

Before I get to a recipe today I would like to tell you how proud I am of my 5-year-old, strong-willed, SMART, funny little boy who has a very special heart. He was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, Pulmonary Atresia and MAPCAs at birth. So far in his 5 years, he has undergone 3 open heart surgeries and 8 heart cathetrizations, and a half-dozen non-heart-related surgeries, as well. His trials have put life into major perspective for our family. We adore this boy, and we are constantly amazed at how far he has come, and how strong he continues to be throughout it all!

Today we walked 3+ miles to honor him, and the many other kids like him who were born with heart defects. It was a special day! We had a few friends join us for the walk, and that made it even more special. A lot of money was raised today for a very good cause. We were thrilled to be a part of it!

With that said, we are all tired tonight. The boys are fast asleep and I am relaxing on our porch with a glass of wine before heading to bed myself. Real quick, I want to share another delicious summer salad with you all! This can double as a salad and salsa, and many other things, honestly. Spoon it over a burger or a wrap or a sandwich or a green leafy salad.

Want to read more? Head on over to Jeff's Plate, where you can find the rest of the details. My good blogging friend Jeff is getting married next week, so he asked me to write a guest post on his blog while he helped out with wedding details. Of course I said yes! I adore his blog and his food and his friendship, too, of course.

Head on over and wish Jeff and his fiance congratulations! 

Printable recipe: Blackeye pea salad


A poll and a $50 GIVEAWAY!

I am looking to gather valuable information so that I can better please you, my readers! If you would like to be eligible to receive a $50 Visa gift card in your mailbox, all you have to do is:

1. Take the poll at the bottom of this post.

2. Leave a comment on this post telling me that you took the poll.

That's it! Your input is appreciated!

I will randomly select a winner from the comments section of this post on Monday, June 25th at noon.


For additional giveaway entries, leave separate comments for any or all of the following:

- Follow me on Pinterest.

- Follow me on Twitter.

- Follow me on Facebook.

- Follow my RSS Feed.

 Good luck!


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