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Menu Inspiration: Summer cocktail party

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Believe it or not, it's August. If you're gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend already or planning a casual end-of-summer party, here are some quick and easy entertaining ideas that will help you send the summer season off right.

Fresh, Mediterranean-inspired flavors highlight this menu, and for something sweet at the end that's still light: easy to make grilled peaches with honey-sweetened whipped cream. As a bonus, there's something for everyone: several recipes are vegetarian-friendly and could be made vegan with a few omissions or easy swaps.

Fresh and Easy Greek Salad

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As much as I love to cook as a way to relax, we've all been there: coming home from a long day at work or school, just wanting something quick for dinner so the kitchen clean-up can be expedited and the unwinding after that can begin.

Fortunately, it doesn't take a lot of time at all to make a big main course salad—one of my go-tos for an easy dinner on a weeknight, on a hot summer night when turning on the oven is out of the question or, frankly, on any night when the last place that anyone wants to be is in the kitchen for a long period of time.

Served on a big platter for 2-4 people, salads make a complete meal with the addition of some protein or a side of bread while still being light enough not to weigh you down for the rest of the night. Cobb salad is a favorite of mine, but takes a lot of ingredients to get it all together: blue cheese, bacon, avocado... All delicious, but if you're really looking to cut down time and want to save a couple of pennies since avocados and a good blue cheese can get pricey, turn to Greek salad.

Meal delivery services for the home cook: Five years later

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Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, just a review of the services based on my experiences using them.

In 2015 I wrote an assessment of meal delivery kits that first appeared on my old personal site and blog (you can now read it here, too, as I've been transitioning some of my food-related posts to this site over time.) This was a follow-up to my review of Plated, the first meal kit service that I tried in 2014, arguably just as these programs were really starting to gain some popularity. I routinely subscribed to Blue Apron since the time of writing that article, which I preferred of the few that I tried (but, more on that later...)

Helpful alternatives to meal prep and an easy answer to the question "What's for dinner this week?", meal kits are ideal for nearly everyone, especially people that like to try new recipes or loves to cook but doesn't always have time to shop. Fundamentally, that has not changed.

Flash forward to 2019, and a lot has changed as far as the businesses themselves.

Menu Inspiration: Easy Weeknight Italian

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Growing up in New Jersey, Italian food was a big part of my life. It seems like no matter where you go in the state, you can throw a stone and hit a pizzeria. In fact, a quick search on Yelp for "pizza" in Newark, NJ, the largest city in the state with a population of 285,154 in 2017 (Wikipedia) brought up over 620 search results for me. By contrast, a search of Flemington, NJ (Wikipedia says it had a population of 4,621 in 2017), the town where I went to high school and location of the famous Lindbergh "Trial of the Century", still brought up 28 results. I even worked at a few of those pizza places... three, actually, while I was in high school.