Springtime Panzanella Salad

springtime panzanella

Classic panzanella is made with bread and fresh ripe tomatoes and it’s a very popular dish to make in the summertime when tomatoes are at their peak. My springtime panzanella salad presented here, which is obviously a twist on the classic, highlights peak season asparagus and other spring produce that is available now.

This version features some cooked vegetables as well as raw, a dreamy vinaigrette made with a good quality olive oil and of course crispy chunks of toasted bread throughout.

springtime panzanella

This spring green version is crisp and light, it’s hearty enough to stand alone or pretty enough to be side by side next to the perfect main of your choice. So you might want to consider this for your next party , picnic or BBQ.

springtime panzanella

Grab a baguette, slice it up and toss with olive oil, a little salt and pepper and a touch of granulated garlic, place into a hot oven until nice and crispy, then break it into crispy chunks so you can scatter throughout the salad.

This springtime panzanella salad is filled with fresh asparagus that has been blanched and thrown into an ice bath then completely padded dry, ribbons of yellow squash made with a vegetable peeler, english cucumber slices, chunks of orange pepper, red onion, defrosted peas or fresh, radish slices, sliced cherry tomatoes, a handful of arugula topped with shaved parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil.

No need for exact measurements, depending on the size of your platter just fill it with the above mentioned ingredients placed evenly all around. You can easily add, remove or change up some of the ingredients and customize it to  your own personal liking, even changing up the bread if you so desire.

springtime panzanella

Now let’s talk about the vinaigrette, I like to make it in a small mason jar by adding 1 part red wine vinegar to 3 parts of your best olive oil, add in 1 teaspoon of mayo (yes mayo) a pinch of oregano, salt and pepper then shake, shake, shake.  That’s it! Just spoon it all over and serve immediately.

Serve this up to your family and friends with all the seasonal veggies that are available right now and enjoy every bite!

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Zucchini Ribbon Rolls with Tapenade, Spinach and Parmesan Cheese

zucchini ribbon rolls

Zucchini ribbon rolls are such a wonderful summer appetizer, snack or side dish to make when zucchini is in abundance. Delicate ribbons of zucchini smeared with olive tapenade, shaved parmesan and shredded spinach. It’s a combination that packs a punch in flavor, yet it’s so fresh and light.

I actually saw this recipe in a Sunset magazine that I was reading on a plane coming home from vacation and I couldn’t wait to make it.

zucchini ribbon rolls

It’s super easy to make, no cooking involved just create your ribbons of raw zucchini by using either a mandoline or a veggie peeler as I did. Purchase a good quality jar of olive tapenade, shave up a pile of parmesan cheese and shred some raw baby spinach.

zucchini ribbon rolls

I’ve made these twice already and each time they quickly disappeared off of the platter, they’re just perfect for your next summer party. You can prep everything ahead but I actually like the way they taste after sitting for an hour, the zucchini softens slightly and all the flavors really mingle together.

zucchini ribbon rolls

Drizzle the top with the best olive oil you have so it can seep into these delicious little rolls to enrich the flavor even more.

For another version you might want to smear the zucchini ribbons with your favorite pesto, think basil, arugula, spinach or even sun-dried tomato to name a few, but the possibilities are really endless!

zucchini ribbon rolls

Enjoy these while the bounty of zucchini is upon us!

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Zucchini Ribbon Rolls with Tapenade, Spinach and Parmesan Cheese
 
Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine July 2018
Author:
Ingredients
  • zucchini, ends trimmed and made into ribbons with either a mandoline or veggie peeler
  • parmesan cheese, shaved
  • baby spinach leaves, cut into thin ribbons
  • store -bought tapenade
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Lay the ribbons on a flat surface, then smear each ribbon with tapenade.
  2. Place the parmesan shavings on the top.
  3. Put a generous pinch of the shredded spinach at the end of each slice.
  4. Roll up starting from the spinach end and close with toothpicks if you like.
  5. Place them on a platter, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper and scatter more cheese around.
  6. NOTE:
  7. Find zucchini that are wide enough so that when you make the ribbons you'll have some good surface to spread your ingredients on, so small ones wouldn't work. Also when making your ribbons, when you reach the seeds, turn the zucchini and keep peeling, do not use the seeded part for your ribbons.

 

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Pesto Pappardelle Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons

pesto pappardelle pasta

I love this time of year when I can walk outside into my back yard and pick enough fresh basil to make a batch of pesto. Usually the first time that I make pesto I immediately have to cook up some sort of pasta with it, there’s nothing like freshly made basil pesto swirled into warm pasta, perfection at it’s best!

zucchini ribbons and pappardelle pasta

I decided on making pappardelle pasta this time, pappardelle is a large, broad and flat noodle and it goes really well with the addition of some zucchini ribbons  tossed into the warm pasta at the end. The long, wide zucchini ribbons mimic the pappardelle and adds a nice touch to the freshly made pesto.

A vegetable peeler is a great tool to use when making zucchini ribbons and it’s easy to do, but just make sure you keep turning the zucchini when you reach the seeds like I did, shown in the above photo.

home grown basil

To make the basil pesto gather up the best leaves you can find, ones that are unblemished.

making basil pesto

A tip I learned a long time ago was to blanch the basil in boiling water for just fifteen seconds then immediately plunge it into cold ice water to shock it and stop the cooking process. By doing this the pesto will stay a nice bright green color, it won’t oxidize and have that dark green color on top which is not so visually appealing.

After you scoop the leaves out of the water make sure you give them a really good squeeze, removing as much water as you can. Another tip I learned a while back was to use a potato ricer for squeezing out the water, it works wonders, the handle comes down and it easily pushes all the excess water through the holes beneath, but if you don’t have a ricer just wrap it up in a tea towel and twist it until it’s nice and dry.

basil pesto ingredients

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano is a must for a quality tasting pesto as well as a bit of garlic, good olive oil and lightly toasted walnuts. I stopped using pine nuts a while ago it’s hard to find descent ones and the price is outrageous, plus I have really come to love it with the toasted walnuts anyway.

basil pesto

I like using a food processor to make my pesto it’s quick and easy and then I store it in the fridge using glass jars, pesto also freezes really well.

pesto pappardelle pasta

No need to cook the zucchini ribbons at all you just toss them raw right into the warm, strained pasta that has been tossed with the fresh basil pesto.

pesto pappardelle pasta

This is such a fresh and vibrant tasting pasta dish to make when basil is in abundance this time of year, it’s even good cold as a salad with some grilled chicken or shrimp.

Don’t stop at only pasta though fresh pesto can be slathered on just about anything, use your imagination and get creative!

Follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pesto Pappardelle Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • BASIL PESTO
  • 4 cups of solidly packed basil leaves, unblemished and washed
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE PASTA
  • ½ lb. pappardelle pasta
  • 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash or 3 zucchini, medium sized made into ribbons with a veggie peeler
  • basil pesto, no measurement just enough to coat the warm pasta to your liking
  • a few basil leaves, toasted walnuts and grated cheese for garnish
Instructions
  1. TO MAKE THE PESTO
  2. Blanch the basil in boiling water for just 15 seconds.
  3. Immediately remove, scoop out with a spider and place into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
  4. Squeeze out all the water from the blanched basil.
  5. In a food processor add the nuts, then garlic and basil and grated cheese, combine.
  6. Now while the processor is running stream enough olive oil down the shoot until you get a nice loose consistency.
  7. Place into a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use, I got a little over 2 pints.
  8. Pesto stays well in the fridge for at least 3 weeks or in the freezer for over a month.
  9. TO MAKE THE PESTO PAPPARDELLE PASTA WITH ZUCCHINI RIBBONS
  10. Cook pasta according to directions al'dente, reserve a little pasta water if need be for incorporating.
  11. Scoop out and place into a large bowl.
  12. Add in enough pesto to your taste and liking, if it seems to thick loosen it up with some of the warm pasta water you reserved.
  13. Toss in the raw zucchini ribbons while the pasta is still hot, tossing and coating with the pasta and pesto.
  14. Arrange everything onto a nice platter.
  15. Add some small basil leaves, some toasted walnuts, extra grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil all over for garnish.
  16. Enjoy!

 

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12 Delicious Ways to Use Up Your Summer Zucchini and Squash

zucchini ribbon carpaccio

If you still have an abundance of zucchini either from your own garden, family, friends or even total strangers, here’s a few ideas on how to use them up.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time then you should know I have a thing about vegetable ribbons of all sorts, many times I’ve used ribbons of carrot, cucumber, butternut squash, but especially zucchini and yellow squash in many of my recipes.  I love how they look in a salad and when presented on a platter, I think it adds a little touch of elegance.

The salad above doesn’t really have a recipe, it’s made with ribbons of zucchini and yellow squash, tossed together with arugula, shaved parmesan, basil, parsley and toasted hazelnuts, the dressing is fresh lemon and olive oil whisked together. I call it my Zucchini Ribbon Carpaccio because everything is raw but the lemon dressing helps to soften the rawness.

On to a few of my other favorites!zucchini rollups

Zucchini Roll Ups with Ricotta and Corn

zucchini whipped ricotta

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

zucchini boats

Zucchini Boats with Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

zucchini veggie slaw

Zucchini Veggie Slaw

zucchini burrata

Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata

zucchini gratin

Zucchini Tomato Gratin

zucchini ribbon salad

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

zucchini roasted tomatoes

Zucchini Noodles with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cream

zucchini mock ravioli

My adaption from Half Baked Harvest, Three Cheese Ravioli

zucchini tart

Zucchini Tart

zucchini lasagne

Zucchini Lasagne

Enjoy the end of summers bounty, Labor Day is almost here and the fall season is right around the corner in my neck of the woods, which I’m actually looking forward to!

Check out my Instagram account to see what I’ll be cooking up in the new season ahead.

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Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

zucchini ribbon salad

In a few short weeks zucchini will be in abundance everywhere in my neck of the woods and probably yours as well, so I want ed you to be prepared to make this lovely Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta, so keep this recipe near by.

I’ve always loved the look of shaved ruffled ribbons of zucchini they look so elegant when placed on a platter, this salad is so pretty to serve to your family and friends, I guarantee everyone will be impressed.

It’s simple to prepare, you can make it on a whim and when all the different elements are put together the taste is truely incredible!
zucchini ribbons

The contrast of colors between the green zucchini ribbons and the thinly sliced pink radishes makes it visually appealing and adds to the crunch factor. No need for any fancy gadgets to make this either, just a simple vegetable peeler will do the trick.whipped ricotta

 

But what really takes this dish over the top is the whipped ricotta, ricotta when blended in a food processor takes on a luxurious texture, it’s creamy and dreamy and then if it couldn’t get any better it gets infused with lemon zest, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese, it’s a magical combination.zucchini ribbon salad

Feel free to add some ribbons of yellow squash as well for even more color contrast, I often do that.
zucchini ribbon salad

 

The dressing is a simple lemon and olive oil dressing which compliments everything so well and it’s also topped off and finished with crunchy, toasted walnuts.

This salad screams summer, it’s fresh and light, bright and citrusy, filled with fresh herbs and crunch and it’s one of my absolute favorites on a hot summer day.

Start hording all the zucchini you can get so you can make this Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta.

Follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what I’m cooking up daily in my kitchen.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 large zucchini or 2 plus 1 yellow squash, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 radishes shaved thin with a mandoline or finely cut with a knife
  • 2 large lemons, 1 for zest and the other for juice to use in the dressing, save a couple slices for garnish
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese, try to purchase a dryer version verses a wet one you might find in liquid at a deli, the dryer the better
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
  • toasted chopped walnuts
  • good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • FOR THE LEMON AND OLIVE OIL DRESSING;
  • 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil, add some salt and pepper and whisk together
Instructions
  1. Place ricotta into a food processor bowl and process until it's light and creamy about thirty seconds or so, then fold in the parmesan cheese, lemon zest and roughly two tablespoons each of finely chopped parsley and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Spread your ricotta mixture onto your favorite platter, drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Make sure your ribbons are shaved as well as the radishes and are ready to go, toss them into a bowl adding some more chopped herbs then gently spoon some of the lemon and olive oil dressing all over tossing ever so lightly, being careful not to over soak the zucchini mixture, a little dressing goes a long way.
  4. Arrange the zucchini nicely on top of the whipped ricotta, leaving an edge so the ricotta shows.
  5. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts all over and arrange a few slices of lemon for garnish around the platter.
  6. Enjoy!

 

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Spring Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, lemon and Hazelnuts

spring salad with asparagus and goat cheese

I’ve been taking full advantage of asparagus season, my fridge is constantly stocked with those tender thin stalks. Besides just roasting them, which is a given, I’ve been putting them into frittatas, risottos, pasta dishes, tarts and a ton of salads.

In this salad today the asparagus is really the star. You give them a really quick roast to get them out of the raw state, slice them in half lengthwise, then gently toss into a hunk of honey infused goat cheese which has been loosened up a bit with a fresh lemon and olive oil dressing. Honestly, you could stop right there it’s that good!

But continue on please because we’re making a salad today.

spring salad ingredients

For the other ingredients you’ll want to build your salad around what’s in season, and being that its spring here I used a mixture of red leaf lettuce and a little arugula for spiciness, crispy radishes, fresh peas and fava beans, I added in some raw zucchini ribbons because I love the look and taste it gives to a salad, plus crunchy toasted hazelnuts.

spring salad with asparagus and goat cheese

Layer everything together rustic style onto a nice big platter and spoon more of the lemon and olive oil dressing all over.

spring salad with asparagus and goat cheese

For a special finish to this salad add generous shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, it’s a must!

4.7 from 3 reviews
Spring Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, lemon and Hazelnuts
 
A beautiful fresh salad that celebrates Spring!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of asparagus,on the thin side but thick enough to cut in half lengthwise.
  • 1 cup fresh peas, or frozen and defrosted
  • ½ cup of cooked and prepped fava beans, you could use frozen defrosted lima beans
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium raw zucchini made into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, (no seeds)
  • ½ bunch of red leaf lettuce chopped bite size and a generous handful of arugula mixed together or combination of salad greens of your choice
  • 4 oz. of chevre goat cheese, I used the one with honey
  • the zest of one lemon, you can cut up a few slices for garnish after
  • ½ cup of toasted hazelnuts, slightly cracked open
  • shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for top of salad
  • extra lemons for dressing
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Roast your asparagus on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil for maybe 5 or 10 minutes on 375 just until the raw taste is gone, you don't want limp asparagus they should still have a good bite to them, so keep checking. Cool them off and them slice them lengthwise.
  2. Make a lemon and olive oil dressing using 2 parts fresh lemon juice to 4 parts olive oil.
  3. In a bowl mash up your goat cheese and loosen it up with 2 tablespoons of the lemon dressing.
  4. Gently toss and coat sliced asparagus into the mixture, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  5. On a large platter assemble the greens, peas, fava beans, radishes, zucchini ribbons all over ending with the goat cheese coated asparagus on top.
  6. Sprinkle the toasted nuts all around.
  7. Spoon lemon dressing all around, as much as you think you need.
  8. Add shavings of Parmiggiano Reggiano on top.
  9. Garnish with a few lemon slices.

 

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Summer Bounty Zucchini Tart

Delicate zucchini blossoms and thin ribbons of squash pressed into cheesey flavored ricotta highlight this summer bounty tart and it’s nothing short of perfection!Zucchini blossoms need to be showcased and this is the perfect canvas.
Thanks to convenient store bought puff pastry, it makes everything look so elegant when laid upon it and it tastes out of this world.
Crunchy, flaky, buttery!
Even if it sticks together because you might have left it out of the fridge too long and you couldn’t unfold it like you wanted to, ( cough cough),  it still looks pretty and no one would even have a clue that you had a problem.Here’s how you make it.

RICOTTA MIXTURE
In a bowl mix 2 heaping cups of drained ricotta
1 egg
fresh snipped basil
3 different shredded cheeses, I used romano, mozzarella and an aged chedder. At least 1/4 cup each or even more to taste. My advice, taste mixture before you add the egg.
Salt and pepper
TOPPING
In a saute pan with olive oil and 1 clove of crushed garlic, saute ribbons of zucchini, yellow squash and your zucchini blossoms for a quick minute or two until slightly wilted.
PUFF PASTRY
Line a baking sheet with parchment and unfold your cold puff pastry sheet right on to it. Lightly roll it till seams are flat and sheet looks even all around. Take a pairing knife and make a 1/2 inch border all the way around being careful not to cut through. Take a fork and prick the pastry all within the border so air can get through.
Just spread the ricotta mixture, (you’ll have extra to do another one) within the border and then lay your sauteed squash on top and dot with a few cherry tomatoes and a little drizzle of olive oil.
I like to brush my edges with olive oil and a sprinkling of romano cheese.
Cook in a 350 degree oven until edges are dark golden and crispy and so is the bottom, at least 1/2 hour could be more. Ovens vary so just check it.
ENJOY!
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The Heat Is On!

The temperature is rising here in Chicago so lighter meals and salads are now on the menu.
This extremely delicious salad just screams summer! It’s fresh and bursting with healthy vibrant color, how could you resist?
Ribbons of yellow squash and green zucchini take center stage on a bed of mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette.
 The other components are, sliced mini heirloom tomatoes of various colors, red and orange pepper strips, purple onion,
peas and grilled corn, ( which I grilled inside) finished off with dots of creamy goat cheese and crunchy hazelnuts and a drizzle more vinaigrette.

Crispy bread and a tall iced tea and your set for the perfect summer meal, of course feel free to add in some grilled chicken for a little heartier fare, but I was totally satisfied.
There are no exact ingredients here just add in as much as you want, you can’t go wrong. I layered a platter with mixed greens to start. For mine I used 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash, the ribbons were made with a vegetable peeler.  It was way too hot to go outside and grill so I put 2 ears of corn in the microwave for 5 minutes then threw them on my grill pan inside to give them a good char.

It looks beautiful spread out on a big platter because of all the colors, so keep this in mind for your July 4th cookout, it would work great as a side.

Stay Cool!

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My Big Fat Thick Pasta!

Do you ever have the urge to try different pasta shapes? I do, all the time. In fact, if you were to look on my pantry shelf right now you would see quite a few out of the ordinary shapes and sizes.
 What can I say I get bored with the same old same old!
For my latest pasta shape adventure I tried Mezzi Ziti #9, it’s like bucatini on steroids! Thick and long but perfectly toothy tubular strands, it was an eating adventure to say the least.
 Don’t even think about trying to twirl this pasta around your fork, it’s not going to happen. But I guarantee you’ll be hearing a lot of slurping going on!
 My advice is to eat among those close to you!
My sauce was created with vegetables, it was light and very flavorful. I used cherry tomatoes that I roasted with generous amounts of garlic and olive oil, cooked on foil until they burst, then added in fresh basil. The tomatoes will create a great base for your sauce. To that I added in roasted eggplant, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and zucchini ribbons which were quickly sauteed just until they wilted slightly.
Cook your pasta according to directions then toss everything together making sure to scrape all the tomato juices off the foil lined pan. This is a light but still very substantial, meatless meal. 
If you want to be polite you could cut them with your fork as you eat, but it was much better slurping!

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Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Ribbons of zucchini can instantly transform a simple salad into something you might see served at an upscale restaurant, not only does it look pretty, but the added zucchini adds a special element of flavor. This is so easy to make and you don’t even need a fancy gadget to do it!

A simple vegetable peeler is all you’ll need to to cut the thin lengthwise strips of zucchini. Start by cutting off the ends of your zucchini then use your peeler to cut the strips, stopping and turning when you see the seeds. The unused portion as seen in the photo above can easily be diced up and used for future use.

You’ll want to make sure you cook your strips of zucchini either in a stove top grill or saute pan coated with a tiny bit of olive oil, they only take a couple of minutes. Make sure they cool completely before adding them to your salad.

I used arugula for my salad base and tossed it in a vinaigrette of 3 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar, added a touch of Dijon, a crushed garlic clove, salt, black pepper and oregano, any lemon based dressing would be work as well.
Lay your zucchini strips on top, toss in some feta or shaved Parmesan and sprinkle with toasted nuts, I used hazelnuts here with the feta, but pine nuts or slivered almonds would be just as good. To finish, drizzle a little more dressing over the top. Just let your creative juices flow and make it your own!
Buon Appetito

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GET YOUR GRILL ON!!

And make an EGGPLANT BRUSCHETTA

Simply brush a loaf of ciabatta bread with olive oil, and grill it till crisp. In the meantime, mix together your favorite goat cheese, along with some mascapone, to even out the tang.Mix in some lemon peel and fresh herbs, I used basil and parsley, set aside.

After you have grilled your eggplant that was also brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper, lightly toss it in a balsamic vinaigrette. ( a very important step!)

Now spread that creamy mixture over that crispy ciabatta and layer your eggplant on top, oh yeah, I also grilled up some red pepper for a little color and added flavor! Serve at room temperature. I hope you eggplant lovers try this!!

GRILLED ZUCCHINI RIBBON SALAD

This recipe is adapted from Michael Chiarello. Take a mandoline or a vegetable peeler and make length wise strips of zucchini. Toss them in some olive oil and place on grill, he suggested cooking only one side, but I did both. It cooks up fast so watch it, you just want it lightly wilted with light grill marks. Place them all on a platter. In the meantime, whisk together a fresh lemon and olive oil dressing, adding some crushed garlic, just a hint! of course salt and pepper to taste.

Now add fresh basil and parsley roughly chopped and toss into the zucchini ribbons. Pour the lemon dressing all over.
Top it off with some shaved Pecorino and toasted pinenuts! Can I just say, Yumm!

LILAC’S FROM MY GARDEN

Lilac’s are popping up everywhere here in Chicagoland! They are in full bloom right now, and the smell is incredible! These were taken from a big bush I have in my backyard. Thought I’d share this bouquet with all of you.
Note to all my blog friends… I will be gone on vacation for 1 week, we are flying to sunny California, ( Napa Valley & San Francisco, Woo Hoo!!) I will be sure to come back with plenty of pictures to share, after all it is a foodie lovers dream trip! So with that being said, I won’t be around to visit you till I come back, don’t worry you are all in my reader, I’ll look forward to catching up when I get back.
See you soon,
Marie

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