My Favorite Summer Cheese Board: Chickpea Salad Recipe and Sweepstakes!

This post was sponsored by Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Ready for a summer cheese board? This one is the BEST and is gluten free too! Also, a chickpea salad recipe and a fun #sweepstakes! #ad #NutThinsContest #IC

You know what I love most about a summer party?

If you’re thinking ice cream, that is certainly a big one. I do love a good dessert platter, but ultimately I am all about a cheese board or plate or platter. Whatever you want to call it, it makes me incredibly happy. And now I make my own!

What are my secret ingredients? Cheese, of course, and I use havarti and swiss and colby jack, and pretty much anything. Then I love pepperoni and salami. I pair it all with a chickpea salad (homemade, of course) and some antipasto – store bought or thrown together easily at home with provolone. When you have all that goodness, what’s the most important food pairing? This is an easy question. It’s crackers, of course. And that’s why I’ve found a love with Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins.

They are my go-to snack for the summer, and also for my summer entertaining, with July 4th, Labor Day, and all of our birthdays crammed into two months of parties. They make for a delicious snack that is crunchy and crispy like a potato chip, but sturdy enough for dips and toppings. That’s why it’s perfect for my summer gatherings because I dip them, put cheese and pepperoni on them, or use them as vehicles for antipasto and chickpea salad. This is important for many of my friends that they are wheat & gluten free, and made with real Blue Diamond® Almonds. There are no artificial flavors and there’s a crispy, crunchy texture that is oh so good. I love that there is a wide variety of flavors to try and enjoy as well.

Right now, Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins are giving away $3,000 in prizes! There’s the Nut-Thins 2 Win Scavenger Hunt – for the chance to win a $1,000 gift card, find Nut-Thins in any grocery store, take a selfie with the product on the shelf, and post it to your public Instagram or Twitter account using the hashtag #NutThinsContest OR upload it to!

Then we have the Nut-Thins 2 Win Sweepstakes. For the chance to win a $500 gift card to either Ahold, Kroger, Safeway, or Target, enter your information at Two ways to win up to $3,000 in prizes! Good luck!

Homemade Chickpea Salad:

What You Need:

2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Edamame
1/2 cup red and green peppers
1/3 cup carrots, diced
2-4 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sunflower or grapeseed oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Seasonings – basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.

What You Do:

1 – In a large bowl, combine your garbanzo beans, edamame, peppers, carrots, cranberries, and garlic.

2 – In a smaller bowl, combine the oils and seasonings and whisk until blended

3 – Pour the contents of the smaller bowl over the beans mixture and toss with salt and pepper

4 – Enjoy!

YUM, right? It is one of my favorite recipes. And I love that it goes perfectly with Nut-Thins. They are crispy and sturdy and every flavor holds my salad well, but I think the original flavor is my favorite to pair with it. They all work!

Ready for a summer cheese board? This one is the BEST and is gluten free too! Also, a chickpea salad recipe and a fun #sweepstakes! #ad #NutThinsContest #IC

What’s your favorite item on a cheese board? Other than cheese, of course!

Ready for a summer cheese board? This one is the BEST and is gluten free too! Also, a chickpea salad recipe and a fun #sweepstakes! #ad #NutThinsContest #IC

Outdoor Summer Fun: Ham, Avocado & Corn Salsa and “Freezy Feet”

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I’m proud to be partnering with Smithfield for this blog post, and to share one of my favorite easy and versatile outdoor summer recipes, as well as an outdoor fun summer game we created together to keep cool during the hot days of summer.

AD My Ham, Avocado and Corn Salsa recipe is incredible! It's easy, versatile, and made with tasty ingredients. Best paired at an outdoor party with games!

I know I sound like a broken record here, but we spend most of the summer outside.

It comes with the territory of having two dogs, 10 chickens, neighborhood kids on all sides of the house, and four acres of lush gardens and woods. It’s hot and humid at times, muggy, buggy, and just plain rainy, but if it’s a weekend with no other plans, we’re all outside together. We seriously do everything together outside. We read, nap, play games, and even camp out on the lawn. I love to set up my favorite area and watch the sun move across the sky. And I love any excuse to make my Ham, Avocado & Corn Salsa. This is a unique recipe because we all four have vastly different taste and we all four love it.

You all know I love ham, right? Well if you didn’t, you do now! It always reminds me of wonderful chef salads as a kid. Now I’ve stepped up my ham game with Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ham. Smithfield Ham is the perfect protein boost for your summer recipes. I love to add pre-diced, cubed, or sliced ham into my morning scramble, my afternoon chef salad (YES), or as an addition to my pool or beachside picnic plate. You know I love spiral ham, but this line of ham has the legendary Smithfield taste, without having to prepare a full spiral ham. You know I love to prepare a full spiral ham, but it’s summer!

AD My Ham, Avocado and Corn Salsa recipe is incredible! It's easy, versatile, and made with tasty ingredients. Best paired at an outdoor party with games!

My salsa only takes minutes to make, and feeds a party! You can choose from 20 different cuts of Anytime Favorites – including sliced, diced, chops and steaks. I go for cubed for my Ham, Corn, & Avocado Salsa.

Get local and fresh ingredients and throw it together beautifully:

Ham, Avocado & Corn Salsa

Ham, Avocado & Corn Salsa


  1. 1 package of Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ham (cubed or diced)
  2. 1 can whole kernel corn
  3. 1 red bell pepper
  4. 2-3 medium avocados
  5. 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  6. 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (enough to coat the salsa)
  7. Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  8. 2-3 garlic cloves, minced


  • 1 - Chop vegetables and mix together with corn and ham
  • 2 - Add enough olive oil to coat the salsa
  • 3 - Add salt, pepper, garlic and Parmesan to taste
  • 4 - Enjoy!


You can also add more olive oil if you want to use the salsa on top of grilled english muffins. Make the salsa and have it sit overnight in the fridge. Grill your english muffins with butter and then spoon your salsa mixture on top. Take a few spoonfuls of garlic infused olive oil from the bottom to seep onto the muffin. Top with fresh Parmesan and enjoy!

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And you know what pairs perfectly with the salsa, right? If you guessed outdoor family fun, you’re right! I find that summer is even more jam-packed with activities than the school year. It’s camps, graduations, reunions, birthdays, work, and more. We miss those moments to just enjoy time together. That’s why we’re so excited that Smithfield wants us to celebrate those simple, yet memorable backyard moments with friends and families. It makes the summer more unforgettable.

And let’s face it – summer is already pretty unforgettable.

Warm summer days and nights offer us a chance to get outside and revel in the season with loved ones. There are balmy, relaxing evenings and there are laidback weekend mornings. Every moment feels like an opportunity to soak in the sun, have ice-cold drinks, and enjoy delicious recipes. And can we all agree that no summer should go by without checking essential activities off your bucket list? Your memories are waiting to be made. Invite your loved ones over for late-night fun spent stargazing and/or watching fireworks – just soaking in the great outdoors. And in the day? Create unique games!

We play “Freezy Feet” and I can’t remember the origin! We just made it up! We fill a baby pool with ice cubes and have contests of who can take the most ice cubes out with their feet. I can do it with one foot, but my kids usually use two.

Kids love a good game and they often get competitive. The best part of the game is that it keeps us cool and we have fun doing it. We can get some nasty heat waves, even up here in New England. Although we think even 75 is hot!

There you have it. A wonderful recipe and a party game! We love Smithfield’s vast portfolio of simple, wholesome, and hearty ingredients. Make this summer memorable with tasty dishes and fun games that keep you cool. Summer rocks!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield.

AD My Ham, Avocado and Corn Salsa recipe is incredible! It's easy, versatile, and made with tasty ingredients. Best paired at an outdoor party with games!

How do you keep cool in summer?