Gazpacho and Spring Cleaning

That title is probably totally weird to you, but yesterday I did probably like my 10th spring cleaning of the year so far, and it always feels so great. Once I’m done, anyway. I tackled about 6 loads of laundry, deep cleaned both bathrooms, organized our closet and coat closet among other tasks {we are still going to clean the kids bedrooms out this weekend – they come home in 11 days!}.

All the spring cleaning, plus the 80+ degree weather {finally!} and our extremely well-behaved puppy at the park all made me think of those simple things that remind me of summer; lazing around on a hot summer day at the pool or a park, all the windows wide open letting in fresh air…

But one thing that’s not really my all-time favorite summer activity is cooking. If you recall, last summer I made a handful of different soups, which sounds crazy in hot weather. My logic is that you just throw everything in one pot, cover it and let it sit. No slaving over a hot stove or multiple burners heating up your house.

Something that {I honestly have no idea why or where I got it from} I have been wanting to make for the past week or two is Gazpacho. I did some reading up on this cold soup, and it’s just my kind of dish. I like foods that don’t always have an exact recipe, rather a backbone that you build off of to fit your palette/fridge/budget.

It was so refreshing and surprisingly FILLING. I couldn’t eat my entire bowl {I think maybe because the water content is so high} but I wish I could have. This recipe makes a huge pot and could probably serve 6 comfortably as a side dish. Possibly the best part is that there’s no heat required.


| Gazpacho

Serves approx. 6

5 Roma tomatoes

1 red/purple onion

1 large cucumber

1 red bell pepper

4 celery stalks

3 cloves garlic

1/2 jalapeno

a handful of cilantro

3 TBS tomato juice

3 TBS olive oil

3 TBS white wine vinegar

1/2 TSP salt

avocado to garnish {optional}

1/2 TBS agave

Finely dice the first eight ingredients. Put half of all the vegetables in a blender plus the last 4 ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour out the blended mix into a large bowl and set aside. Add the other half of the vegetables to the blender/food processor and pulse until they become minced, but not pureed. Add in the minced vegetables into the blended vegetables and stir well.

It is best if this soup sits in the fridge for 8+ hours.

Garnish with slices of avocado and a couple sprigs of cilantro, if desired.


Enjoy on a hot day!


Pasta Puttanesca

I’ve heard some very interesting stories about this Italian dish. The name literally translates to, “Whore Style Spaghetti”. One story is that the ingredients were so cheap, it was a staple for Italian night walkers. Another is that prostitutes would make this pungently aromatic, spicy dish and place it on their window sill to draw in men. Whatever story is true, the dish is truly alluring.

I’ve wanted to try my hand at Pasta Puttanesca since I first saw A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s extremely inexpensive, and utterly fool proof. There is a basic recipe here, but the point is that you put in what you have or what you feel like. My ingredients vary a tad from the basic recipe, but it’s mighty fine.

Puttanesca 1

| Pasta Puttanesca

Serves 2

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TBS minced garlic

1 TSP red pepper flakes

1 – 16 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice

2-3 TBS chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 TBS capers

1/4 C kalamata olives, roughly chopped

a dash of salt

2 servings spaghetti, cooked

Puttanesca 4

Saute garlic, crushed red chili flakes and capers in olive oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients plus a couple tablespoons of water. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce reduces a little, add in cooked spaghetti and stir well to incorporate.

Puttanesca 2

Serve and enjoy!

Oven Roasted Daikon and Baby Carrots

So I have been hearing rave reviews about daikon radishes, but I’m going to be honest with you; this veggie loving girl isn’t as aroused by radishes as one would think. Not raw, anyways.

I find their bite to be overwhelming, so with such an attention-stealing vegetable, I think it’s best to go the simple route.

Daikon Radish

I do have to tell you, I was a little nervous as to how this would turn out, but as the carrots were caramelizing and the radish was browning in the oven, the overwhelming smells of everything melding together truly captured me. The garlic salt is absolutely necessary, and is the period at the end of the sentence for this meal.

I am pleased to say I was very satisfied. Served over some brown rice or quinoa with a pinch of soy sauce, you will find yourself asking for more.

| Oven Roasted Daikon and Baby Carrots

Serves 1

1 large daikon radish

3/4 C baby carrots

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1/4 TSP garlic salt

a pinch of sea salt

1 TBS soy sauce

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the daikon and chop off the ends. Slice into 1/2-1/4 inch rounds. Drizzle the olive oil on a 1 inch deep baking sheet, and toss in the radish slices and baby carrots. Sprinkle in the garlic salt, sea salt and pour the soy sauce over the top. Toss everything to coat, arranging everything in a fairly even layer.

Place the dish in the oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing the veggies about every 10.

When everything is soft and the edges begin to get fairly crispy, the veggies are done. Serve immediately.

Daikon Radish4


Smoky Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Black Beans

So, I literally just realized that I am writing another post about sweet potatoes. Seriously? Good thing they are quite versatile.

Sweet Potato 8

And also, kale? Kale is the trend when it comes to health food these days, and I can totally see why. Kale has more iron than beef {that’s awesome news for those with deficiencies}, more calcium than a glass of milk, and significantly more vitamin C than spinach, among many other things.

Purple Kale

Kale, for me, is better cooked. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it raw, but I prefer it cooked, and this combination is not only a huge handful of many super foods, but also freakin’ delicious. Plus, it’s a one-pot meal, perfect for those lazier days.

Purple Kale1

| Smoky Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Black Beans

serves 2-3

1 TBS olive oil

1 large sweet potato, chopped into very small pieces

1/4 red onion, chopped

7 oz black beans {half a can} drained and rinsed

3 large Kale leaves, cut into thin ribbons

a dash of salt

a dash of cayene

1/2 TSP smoky paprika

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, cook in an even layer the sweet potatoes, covering. Stir every couple of minutes for about 15 minutes total.

Add in the chopped onion and continue cooking for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans with the spices, again in an even layer after being well incorporated, and cover for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

When everything is nice and somewhat crispy, add in the ribbons of kale, and cook until just wilted.

sweet potato 12


Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

So, this recipe is a little redundant considering it has many of the same main components of the last post, but hey, you work with what ya got.

Over the past several months I have been mildly… wait, no… over-the-top-obsessed with sweet potatoes. I probably eat one about 5 times a week. I have been eating them plain with the teeniest amount of sea salt, and can’t get enough.

After I saw this sweet lady’s post about her obsession with the root and how she’s been eating them, I decided to try some new things. This recipe was just what I felt like adding at the time, but if you make these, you should add whatever you have in your fridge, or whatever sounds good to you. Garbanzos, turnip greens, collard greens, parsley, cilantro, kidney beans… you get the picture.

Stuffed Sweet Potato5

| Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 1

1 medium sweet potato

a handful of kale, torn into bits

a handful of baby spinach

a couple TBS black beans

a couple TBS white beans

nonstick spray

a pinch of sea salt

Bake your sweet potato for one hour in a 350 degree oven.

A few minutes before the sweet potato is finished, saute the greens on medium heat with nonstick spray until wilted. When the potato is finished and slightly cooled, cut it open lengthwise. Stuff it with the greens, and top it off with the beans. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and lunch is served!

Stuffed Sweet Potato


Modest Squash & Chicken

I found something I have never found before. Maybe I had just never looked hard, but as I was picking out different kinds of squash one day – yellow summer squash, zucchini – I came upon this little oddball called Mexican Gray Squash. It looked pretty normal, just as though it was a hybrid between the two I had already gathered. Partly green, partly yellow, not really gray, but the skin’s strange pattern gave off a fuzzy, dull look; the impression of gray, if you will. Maybe that’s where the name came from.

At any rate, it was becoming a rather cold evening, and I don’t know about you, but I think squash is perfect for cold weather {which is funny, considering it’s called summer squash}. I don’t know why, but I have had this thing for years now, about always thinking about the Oregon Trail {and I always play the game on my phone when I can’t sleep}. Anyway, I could just imagine the pioneers eating dishes like this: unsophisticated, honest and uncomplicated . Maybe we are the ones who are unsophisticated – after all, everything we do has to be done with such detail and ferocity, taking up so much time. How much more time must they have had on their hands than we do to spend doing what they love. That’s pretty sophisticated to me.

I wish to live simply, modestly like that.

Modest Squash and Chicken

Serves 2.

| Modest Squash and Chicken

2 chicken breasts

1 zucchini squash

1 yellow squash

1 Mexican gray squash

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TSP lemon juice

1/8 TSP salt

1/8 TSP pepper

1/2 TSP dried thyme

1/2 TSP dried rosemary

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and cut each squash into little 1/4 inch slices. Drizzle about a half a TSP of olive oil in the bottom of a round baking dish or pie dish and rub around the surface with a paper towel until thinly coated. Arrange the squash in a circular pattern around the pie dish, leaving a gap in the middle. Place the chicken breasts there.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary and thyme and drizzle over the top of the chicken and squash. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the whole dish.

Place the dish in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Broil on high for an additional 2-3 minutes to get a slight crunch on the squash.

Serve immediately.

Modest Squash and Chicken1


Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This past weekend, we went camping at Lake Wellington for my birthday celebration with some dear friends. The campsite {as it’s name gives away} happens to be positioned alongside of a gorgeous lake.

We brought our fishing poles, but to our dismay, it was catch & release only. Which is pretty rotten when you consider that collectively {mainly the kids} we caught upwards of TEN FISH, and despite the scaly creature’s small proportions, it was still pretty cool. Especially if we got to eat the fresh catch.

My friends 2 year old daughter and I fishing the day away.

Isn’t this photograph just phenomenal? You can see more of my friends work at her website Tyler B Photography. Her work is truly amazing.

Anywho, this inspired me to create a meal fashioned around this delicious aquatic animal.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking fish, but I decided to go with the all American classic – baked salmon, paired with a roasted veggie {I chose the illustrious grape tomato} and a brown/wild rice combination. I’ll discuss a recipe for the fish later, but for now, these plump, little red gems are the highlight of this post. They are low calorie, have ENORMOUS amounts of anti-oxidants, and according to a study I found here, can actually burn fat with their anti-inflammatory properties {these aid in making your fat burning hormones work more effectively}.

SO, here’s what you’ll need:

2 Cups Ripe Cherry Tomatoes

Minced Garlic {I’ll leave the amounts up to you :)}

Minced Basil



Olive Oil

Spray Oil

11X7 Baking Dish {or any dish of similar volume}

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and spray the bottom and sides of the baking dish with a layer of spray oil. Toss the grape tomatoes in, and drizzle every so slightly with olive oil. “Sprinkle” the garlic & basil over the dish, trying to get it evenly spread {I used about a tablespoon, but depending on your taste, use less or more}.

These little tubes make life easier!

Salt and pepper the whole thing to taste, and give it a quick stir, making sure everything is coated.

Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the skin starts trying to pull away from the tomatoes, then put your oven on broil for 2 minutes – no more.

Serve up with some wild rice and baked salmon {maybe a tossed salad, if you’re really hungry ;)}, and you have a scrummy & healthy Summer meal! It truly is a cinch, and you can put whatever spices or other herbs that are your taste to make it your own.


*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on

 4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 50.0
  Total Fat 3.7 g
  Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 1,170.0 mg
  Potassium 182.2 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 4.5 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
  Sugars 0.0 g
  Protein 0.8 g
  Vitamin A 9.7 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 4.4 %
  Vitamin C 13.8 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 3.5 %
  Calcium 1.1 %
  Copper 3.5 %
  Folate 2.9 %
  Iron 3.1 %
  Magnesium 2.5 %
  Manganese 7.5 %
  Niacin 2.5 %
  Pantothenic Acid     2.0 %
  Phosphorus     2.2 %
  Riboflavin 2.3 %
  Selenium 0.9 %
  Thiamin 3.3 %
  Zinc 0.7 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.