Our garden has really started to take off. My orange peppers are slowly turning colors, tomatoes are becoming plump, and I have more hot peppers than I know what to do with! As expected, the cucumbers have taken the lead as the highest producer. And that is ok with me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE cucumbers. I can thank my father for this obsession. Growing up, my father had a small vegetable garden. Every summer, he harvested his cucumbers to make a dill cucumber salad. It has always been one of my favorite dishes. This year, we have so many cucumbers that we’d be eating this salad every day for every meal if we wanted to use up all our cuc’s. So I’ve been making modifications to his salad to spice up our veggie side dishes.
The spicy peppers rival the cucumbers in multiplicity so I added a pepper to our salad. It was a bit too spicy for poor Matt (he’s a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat) so I added less red pepper flakes. I recommend opting for less heat at first and add more to taste.
The dreaded bar exam is lurking around the corner. In 16 days, I’ll be sitting down in a crowded, stuffy classroom, surrounded by over-stressed, nerve-ridden students waiting to take a two day-12 hour exam that will decide whether or not we are fit to practice law in Minnesota. Sounds great huh? Bring on the fun!
While I wait in anticipation of this joyous event, I have been cramming every single piece of law I can into my over-sized head. It’s gotten to the point that when I have conversations, they consist of me telling someone about a certain area of law. “Hey! So you’re never gonna believe this crazy piece of information! You can use prior inconsistent statements to impeach a witness. AND it can come in as substantive evidence.” Yeah, I know. Crazy. But it’s true!!
So since I can only speak in legal jargon, I’ve decided to stick to crock pot recipes for the next two weeks. Anything that takes more than 20 minutes to cook makes me feel guilty for reading something that isn’t cluttered with italic, Latin phrases. My poor summer fun reading list has been set aside (sorry Jessi Witkins!) And this recipe only calls for ingredients that most people have on hand at all times. No need for a grocery run.
The heat index in Minneapolis has started to decline (we live in house without air conditioning. the last couple days were less than pleasant) so using the crock pot isn’t completely unreasonable. Plus, after a full day of studying, a warm meal sure feels great! And hell, who doesn’t love chicky catch with some long ass rice (much love to my boy Tom Haverford).
I bought quinoa almost a two years ago. I tried to make it and completely failed. Either I cooked it too long, not long enough, or I did it right and couldn’t even recognize it. Either way, I gave up. Put the bag in my cupboard and forgot that I even had it at all. Until earlier this month. People kept pinning all these recipes with quinoa as the staple. It was time to bring my cupboard quinoa out of retirement and try to make something. So I picked some herbs from my garden, threw all the veggies we had in the crisper together, and tossed a dressing. It was delicious. Now I can see what all the fuss was about.
Hot summer afternoons means gardening. My garden has doubled from last season. I have a special herb garden filled with cilantro, basil, mint, orange mint, rosemary, hot and spicy oregano, chives, and parsley. Plus two huge planter boxes my husband made me stuffed with red, yellow, orange, and green peppers, serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, green beans, carrots, several types of tomatoes, garden salsa peppers, okra, sugar peas, potatoes, and cucumbers. I know—it’s a lot of plants! (I have 15 basil plants! My backyard smells heavenly). But my goal is to be self-sufficient this summer and autumn, and I think I’m right on track. With all these fresh vegetables and herbs, salads are a must!
Two of my friends started CrunchTime Fitness, a website focused on helping individuals attain their physical fitness and nutritional goals. Thanks to them, I started and finished one round of p90x (next round to be started soon) and rejuvenated the way I look at food. This salad has been modified from their recipe box. The dressing was delicious! I plan to mix up this dressing with different salad variations throughout the summer. It’s the perfect way to meet your veggie requirements on a hot, sunny day.
Today was rainy. On my way home from my bar class, hail the size of golf balls started to impale my car. Cars huddled under the closest bridge seeking refuge. I was lucky enough to have Sally (my car) completely under the bridge. But the whole experience was mildly scary. When the hail first started, it sounded like my car was being shot at. I was honestly worried that they were going to break my windshield. While I am far more susceptible to being frightened, I knew I wasn’t the only person concerned when all the cars under the bridge created a barricade, stopping all traffic. But by the time the song on the radio was over, the storm had lifted and so did the barricade.
This cold, rainy weather meant a warm dinner was in order. One thing I often have trouble with is portion control when it comes to those warm casseroles. And while the weather outside mirrors autumn more than summer, next week (or maybe even tomorrow) will be swimsuit weather again. Thankfully these spinach lasagna rolls realize this and come with built-in portion control. Instead of having to eyeball how many inches your slice should be, you roll the lasagna–making each roll a serving size. Much easier to stay on track and still enjoy a warm slice of lasagna.
I have made a conscious decision. This is going to be the best summer ever. See, I am unemployed and studying for the Minnesota bar. In short, I go to 3 hours of class a day and spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want. Sure, I gotta get some studying done. But it’s completely self-scheduled studying. No meetings. No office I have to be at. No uncomfortable suit jacket to wear. No recording every 6 minutes of my time. Instead, I get to sit on my porch, drink a beer, crack open my Barbri books and relearn everything I learned my first year of law school. It’s not too bad. In fact, I love it. Because I have complete control over my schedule. If I want to work-out at 3 in the afternoon, I can. If I want to run to Target, I can. If I want to study in my swimsuit and get a tan, I can. This is far better than sitting in an office all day. And chances are, I will not get the opportunity to have such freedom with my afternoon schedule ever again.
Still, with watching Criminal Minds and falling deeper in love with Matthew Gray Gubler studying for the bar, I haven’t had as much time to make full meals. Rather, I have resorted to snacking. And of course, when I think of great snacks, anything that can go on chips sounds like the perfect study aid. This black bean salad is excellent on chips–its a great garnish for tacos and is even tasty all by itself. Even better, all you gotta do is throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Even a brain mushed from too much studying of property law can manage that!
The weather here has been going from scorching hot to rather chilly. Quintessential Minnesota. Today was more on the chilly side so I decided to make a warmer dish. Chances are it will be too hot for anything warm for the next couple of months. I LOVE Mexican food. No surprise to anyone who knows me. I’ve worked at two different Mexican restaurants and my go-to drinks are mojitos and margaritas. I am always on the hunt for healthy, Mexican recipes. This recipe is filling, full of protein, and a healthy alternative to greasy restaurant enchiladas. We were out of black beans today so I substituted chili beans, but I originally made these enchiladas with black beans. Both are good!
I may have an unhealthy love of basil. I use it almost daily, and my herb garden can’t grow it fast enough. To me, it’s what healthy eating is-fresh, bold, and poignant. My insides feel cleansed whenever it’s in my food. Might be all in my head.
As a lover of sandwiches, I’ve been trying to find great sandwich recipes that include basil and travel well. Like many students, my lunch is made at 7:00 a.m. No one wants a sandwich that is all soggy by noon. If that unsoggy sandwich includes basil, even better. This sandwich has only four ingredients that travel well so you can bring all the ingredients with you and easily assemble it when you are ready to eat. No need to live solely on pb&j’s anymore!
When I want to splurge, I buy red, yellow, or orange bell peppers. Matt buys fried chicken. As much I as love Matt, fried chicken doesn’t have many healthy redeeming qualities so we went for a compromise. Matt whipped up some homemade onion rings for himself, and I made a chicken entree with bell peppers. (although I did sneak a ring or two and they were amazing!) But what’s with all this splurging? Well, I had my health law final yesterday, and it went well! One thing you learn from law school is the importance of celebrating the little victories. So today’s dinner was our mini-celebration. I found a traditional South American sauce to pair with our chicken and peppers. This sauce has a bold, herbal flavor that is perfect for summer grilling.
Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited. While I do not need a holiday to enjoy a margarita or delicious Mexican food, I can definitely get behind the idea to have a day devoted to it. Unfortunately, people have the tendency to associate great Mexican food with deep fried options. But that doesn’t have to be the case! I am in the middle of law school finals (last time EVER!) and to a lot of people that means gorging on unhealthy snack food and injecting coffee straight to the veins. I do not want to become victim to this habit, but it’s really hard. Sitting at your computer for hours at a time, pouring over case books, statutes, and outlines, it is tempting to run down to the vending machine and stock up. But don’t worry that you’ll find yourself hiding in a study carrel shoving Cheetos in your face (it’s hard to hide the evidence when your fingers are stained orange). This refreshing side salad is a great study snack that will keep the less healthy snacks at bay. It pairs well with baked tortilla chip and has a little bit of sweet and salty.