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.

Gazpacho1

| 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.

Gazpacho2

Enjoy on a hot day!

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Summer Salad

I love salads. What woman doesn’t? But I wanted something a little different, so I “grilled” {really, I just used a grill pan, because we ran out of gas} a few different summer veggies.

Atop a bed of chopped romaine lettuce, I added grilled cucumbers, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms & grilled yellow bell pepper.

Then I made my own dressing out of balsamic vinegar, a splash of olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice, salt, pepper and paprika. You may think this is strange, but I then mixed 1/2 TBSP of brown spicy mustard in. It gives it a punch of tangy flavor for less than 5 calories! And, how could you not love it when you see how beautiful it is? Almost too pretty to eat! Almost.

Enjoy!

*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

 1 Serving
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 277.0
  Total Fat 14.8 g
  Saturated Fat 2.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.6 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 10.0 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 2,716.1 mg
  Potassium 1,276.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 30.8 g
  Dietary Fiber 7.0 g
  Sugars 1.6 g
  Protein 7.7 g
  Vitamin A 83.3 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.5 %
  Vitamin B-6 31.0 %
  Vitamin C 642.7 %
  Vitamin D 13.3 %
  Vitamin E 12.2 %
  Calcium 9.9 %
  Copper 27.8 %
  Folate 61.0 %
  Iron 18.2 %
  Magnesium 15.0 %
  Manganese 58.4 %
  Niacin 27.5 %
  Pantothenic Acid     19.1 %
  Phosphorus     20.7 %
  Riboflavin 30.2 %
  Selenium 10.6 %
  Thiamin 19.7 %
  Zinc 9.5 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Sylvestor Would Be Proud

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with no-cook dishes. Last year, I made this recipe, and it is just so refreshing. Traditionally, Succotash is an American dish consisting of corn and lima beans {it actually became notorious during the Great Depression because the ingredients are so cheap}. I wouldn’t mind eating the standard version, but let’s spruce it up just a tad and get some excitement going on this otherwise monotonous salad; a twist on the classic Succotash.

What you’ll need:

1 – 15 oz Can of Black Beans, drained

2 Cups of Grape Tomatoes, halved

1/2 Cup of Onions, diced

1 Cup of Red Bell Peppers, diced

2 Cups of Frozen Corn, thawed {I find canned corn just plain gross}

2 Cups of Edamame

3 TBSP of Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 TBSP of Olive Oil

1 TSP Salt

1 TSP Black Pepper

1/2 TSP of Chili Powder

1/2 TSP of Cumin

Toss everything in a bowl, stir well and savor this colorful concoction!

Enjoy!

*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

 10 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 139.4
  Total Fat 2.4 g
  Saturated Fat 0.2 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.6 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 269.2 mg
  Potassium 280.0 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 22.0 g
  Dietary Fiber 5.5 g
  Sugars 1.8 g
  Protein 9.0 g
  Vitamin A 23.1 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 4.9 %
  Vitamin C 51.8 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 1.1 %
  Calcium 4.9 %
  Copper 6.2 %
  Folate 20.6 %
  Iron 10.4 %
  Magnesium 11.1 %
  Manganese 14.3 %
  Niacin 4.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid     3.6 %
  Phosphorus     9.4 %
  Riboflavin 3.0 %
  Selenium 1.2 %
  Thiamin 12.0 %
  Zinc 4.4 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Bowling

This summer has already gone by so quickly. The boys will be going back to live with their biological mother in Arizona in just two weeks, and I am dreading it so. Husband and I made a promise that we would cram as many fun things for the two months that we have with them as humanly possible, no matter how tired we get.

And we are tired.

But on Saturday, we took them bowling for their first time! We went with the in-laws, and it was a blast. I hate bowling, and normally shudder at the thought of going, but after a little pep talk from hubs, I ended up having a great time. And more importantly, so did the boys.

Heartbreakers 🙂

Father-Son Moments ❤

Husband winning. Of course.

The shoes compliment my outfit, don’t you think?

Jacob is so much like his daddy. We used the bumpers for the children, but even with those, they did pretty awesome. Jacob got at least 8 pins every turn, but even that wasn’t good enough for him. Competitive-ness must be genetic.

After, we all went for an early dinner at Jimmy John’s, just being a family. I’m going to miss that.

Fresh Fruit

I’m all about making dinner a production, but sometimes, when those super easy recipes come along, there’s nothing better. With minimal effort, you can create a dish that naturally puts smiles on peoples faces, and this dish is one of those.

Fruit salad: simple enough. My belief is, the more care you take when purchasing the fruit, and the more you ponder about what flavors will best meld together, the more people will honestly appreciate it. I am so abraded by the habitual apple, grape and banana fruit salad {I mean, who really makes a b-line for that at a Summer BBQ?}, so I decided to get creative. I love grapefruit, so I used that as my “foundation fruit”, if you will. I could have added apples and grapes, but again, I wanted this one to be unique. Maybe even extraordinary.

Then, plums caught my eye – I love the juicy, sweetness of plums, and we scarcely eat them, so I got a bundle. Then, I figured we needed some berries, and with all that sourness of the grapefruit, we needed a sweet berry. So, we forewent the raspberries and grabbed some big, ripe blueberries. And finally, strawberries were in order – we had to have those. They are a favorite of the men in my household. I didn’t want to make the salad complicated, so I stuck with just those four ingredients.

I used 2 grapefruits, 5 plums, a cup of blueberries, and 2 cups of strawberries {after chopping}. I peeled the grapefruit, got as much of the meal off as possible, pulled the pieces apart, and cut them into bite size bits. Into the bowl they went. Then, I rinsed all the other tasties, and tossed in the blueberries, cut the 6 plums into little pieces, and tossed those in with the chopped strawberries. Top it off with a teaspoon of lemon juice,  and a luscious, fragrant delight awaits you.

Enjoy!

*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

PS. Check out the amounts of Vitamin C this salad has – unreal!

8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 59.7
  Total Fat 0.3 g
  Saturated Fat 0.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 1.5 mg
  Potassium 225.9 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 14.8 g
  Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
  Sugars 8.0 g
  Protein 1.0 g
  Vitamin A 6.6 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 3.4 %
  Vitamin C 86.6 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 3.2 %
  Calcium 1.8 %
  Copper 4.1 %
  Folate 4.0 %
  Iron 1.8 %
  Magnesium 3.2 %
  Manganese 9.4 %
  Niacin 2.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid     3.8 %
  Phosphorus     2.1 %
  Riboflavin 3.4 %
  Selenium 1.8 %
  Thiamin 3.6 %
  Zinc 1.0 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Soup in Summer? Oh, yes I did!

I don’t know why, but every summer, I have this deranged, insatiable need to create a soup.

What?

Yeah, weird, I know. But this is what I’ve come to terms with: I think that the hidden sanity beneath all of this oxymoron-esque foolishness is because it’s easy – you don’t need 3 pans on 3 burners; just one. Contrary to what one might think, it actually keeps the house cooler. Very important when you’re living in an unairconditioned house. Yes. Very important.

This happened to me last summer, too. I repeatedly made chili, adding to the dumbfounded-ness of my then almost-husband. Honestly, I don’t blame him. Who would want to eat hot, spicy chili in 100 degree weather {although some Asian cultures believe that if you’re cold, drink cold beverages, and if you’re hot, hot beverages to balance the body temperature. Could they be right?}?

However, I think this soup I am about to acquaint you with might actually make you think that soup during summer is a sensational idea! Very fresh, clean and light, this soup is, making up for it’s lack in coolness. I was inspired to make this soup by my parents’ best friends who, every year, as far back as I can remember, they had us over for dinner on New Years Day and we had this Portuguese soup. I don’t know their exact recipe, but I tried my hand at it…

What you’ll need:

14 oz or 1 Package of Polska Kielbasa

1 Head of Kale {shall we go into the health benefits of this one? It would be a long conversation}

1 – 15 oz Can of Cannellini Beans, drained { they are really the same as great northerns, so if you have those, use them – however, great northerns do have less impressive nutritional values. Trust me – I studied the two cans in the grocery store aisle for 5 minutes, while people stared}.

1 – 15 oz Can of Kidney Beans

1 – 10 oz Can of Medium Heat Rotel Diced Tomatoes {can you tell I like this stuff?}

1/2 of a Red Onion, diced

1 C of Mushrooms, quartered, stems cut off

12 C of Water

S&P to taste

Put those 12 cups of water plus that can of Rotel {do not drain}  in a very large, deep pot on High, to get it boiling. While you’re waiting, chop that Kale coarsely, and add to the water. Slice up those Kielbasa links, and also add.

Drain & rinse well, both the cans of beans. Toss those in the pan, after the kale has begun wilting, along with the quartered mushrooms and diced onions. Once everything has mingled nicely, liberally S&P to taste {trust when I say liberally – there is, after all, 12 cups of water in there}. Close that sucker up with a lid.

Bring the heat to a simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.

You remember this recipe from last week? Here’s where it comes in handy with that toast. Make the toast according to instructions, dip in this ambrosial soup, and let your taste buds cheer. And they won’t even know how good it is for you. Sometimes I feel like my taste buds are kids – as soon as they know it’s healthy, they don’t want anymore! Okay, that’s a lie. But it’s that good! Try to trick your tongue!

Shhhh! It’s our secret ;).

Enjoy!

*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

  8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 264.2
  Total Fat 14.4 g
  Saturated Fat 5.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.8 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 g
  Cholesterol 33.2 mg
  Sodium 1,524.3 mg
  Potassium 486.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 21.0 g
  Dietary Fiber 7.3 g
  Sugars 1.6 g
  Protein 13.7 g
  Vitamin A 221.4 %
  Vitamin B-12 13.4 %
  Vitamin B-6 11.6 %
  Vitamin C 57.6 %
  Vitamin D 1.7 %
  Vitamin E 4.2 %
  Calcium 12.5 %
  Copper 15.5 %
  Folate 10.1 %
  Iron 16.2 %
  Magnesium 10.5 %
  Manganese 25.6 %
  Niacin 12.0 %
  Pantothenic Acid     6.6 %
  Phosphorus     15.2 %
  Riboflavin 14.4 %
  Selenium 15.6 %
  Thiamin 14.5 %
  Zinc 10.2 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.