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Taste test: Mezcla plant-based protein bars

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This post is made in coordination with Mezcla. Please see the site-wide disclosure policy for more information about sponsored content on fromannaskitchen.com.

How do you feel about energy bars or protein bars? I've tried several different kinds over the years as a healthier snack alternative. Admittedly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with them that started with one bite from a brand that I won't mention (it has a familiar name, but I'll just call them "brand X") that stuck in my memory.

Menu Idea: Easy & casual dinner on the grill

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Prior to COVID-19, Dave and I tried to have a date night outside of the house at least once a week. It was a nice way to break up our schedule and take some time to decompress by going to a favorite restaurant, hitting up a movie, shopping, or playing a few rounds of billiards.

When restaurant dine-in service was shut down, and even now with limited capacity, we adapted by doing at least one night of take-out a week from some of our favorite places that were still open as well as having "car picnics" or "tailgate picnics" in parking lots or at parks. We even ate Indian food (rice and all) once or twice in the truck, which was kind of fun. :D

Otherwise, we've made it a point to sit outside on our patio more for dinner during the week and for lunch on the weekends, making good use of the grill - in the summer to keep the house cooler on some of the hotter days that we've had but also in the fall and winter months, too, just for a change of pace.

Dave and I both love to grill. Rain or shine, cold or hot, any time of the year.

We call our patio the patino since it was large enough just for the grill or our outdoor garbage cans when we first moved in. One of our first "real" home projects we did together, two years ago this April, was to expand it to about 8'x8'.

It's still on the smaller side, but large enough to now accommodate a bistro table and chairs along with the grill. Four chairs can fit, but it's roomier if we move the grill off to the grass if we have company. One day, we hope to add a walkway of bricks as well as a larger front patio to connect the two together

But it's very enjoyable to sit outside with a cup of coffee to start the day or a glass of wine to end the day.

Caprese salad: The best way to say farewell to summer produce

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There's something to be said about having the right tools to get a job done. I think this goes for just about anything in life, even food.

When you have nice ingredients or tools, cooking is more of a joy. It could mean a splurge on a quality olive oil or an aged balsamic vinegar, a luxury like truffles or Kobe/Wagyu beef (for meat eaters - maybe not for me ;) ), or a nice quality knife or cutting block to work with as you prepare meals.

Sometimes, it doesn't have to be expensive at all: buying produce in season, for example, when it's abundant. You're already off to a good start of making something good when you're working with fresh food that's in-season. It speaks for itself. You can do so little to it and it's still delicious.

As ready as I am for the season to change as I sit here on my porch, on the cusp of my favorite time of the year — with cool wind blowing through the windows, anticipating the turning colors of the leaves that will start any time now — I'll always take time to savor the last of the wonderful summer produce that I've grown and harvested or purchased locally at markets.

And one ingredient I always miss the most as the season turns is the tomato.

Farmhouse Kitchen Sink Cookies

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I was asked to bring a dessert for a recent dinner that Dave and I had with his parents. It was right before the cooler, fall weather started to kick in this past week (at last - my favorite time of year!) As much as I didn't want to turn on the oven on a warm day, these cookies were on my mind as an idea to make for quite some time now.

It was a perfect reason to use my new KitchenAid bowl, too, which is blue ceramic with a scalloped texture.

A few years ago, I had a clear glass KA bowl with a handle and cup measurements on the side of it that I loved. Unfortunately, it shattered into a zillion pieces when I was making cookies and it slipped out of my hands and broke on my mom's granite countertop.

They have a lot of fun patterns and textures now, which made it so hard to choose, but this one was unique and something I haven't seen in a lot of stores. And I just love the color...

Whiskey Sour Day 2020

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August 25th marks Whiskey Sour Day again this year. I posted about it four years ago but this year it dawned on me: how did a day in August become Whiskey Sour Day, anyway?

I searched the internet high and low and couldn't find a suitable answer. An article from Bourbonbanter.com published in 2013, though, suggests that the day was created basically for fun, but that the drink has origins circa the 1700s when British Navy sailors would add lime juice to their rum, both to preserve the juice and to keep the sailors free from scurvy (a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C.)

Big news!

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If your a friend or family member that follows me on Facebook or Instagram, then you already know what I'm going to say...

Dave and I are engaged!