Today was harvest day at the Cremona house. With my handy shears, I plopped tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, serranos, green beans, and an orange pepper into my basket. When I was done, I looked like I raided a farmer’s market.
I am so proud of my orange bell pepper. Last year only my green peppers grew so I was thrilled when this year turned out to be different. I didn’t want my miracle pepper to go to waste. This pepper needed to be used in a truly fun recipe. Something unique where the flavors of the pepper stood out.
This twist on the traditional, tomato-based bruschetta was excellent. The orange pepper makes the bruschetta sweeter and crunchier. Next time I make this I think I’ll use different color bell peppers to see how that mixes up the taste.
My friend Krystal is a member of this vegetable co-op where every Thursday she gets a box full of fresh veggies from a local farm. I am the lucky person who gets extra veggies when her crisper is already filled from the week before. In her box this week were some beets which she gifted to me.
I’ve honestly never had beets before. I certainly had no idea how to prepare them. In fact, my only interaction with the vegetable was through the cartoon Doug. Matt has been craving snack foods a lot lately. Every night he is rummaging through the kitchen looking for something to nibble on. He has always been a fan of chips, and his stash of ketchup chips is running thin.
And that’s how beet chips were born. The creation in this dish caused possibly the most “damage” my hands have ever had to go through in the kitchen. My hands were stained red, and I cut my fingers on the slicer 4 times. There was a real labor of love. While the recipe I followed recommend slicing the beets as thin as possible, Matt and I both liked the thicker pieces. So try some thicker and thinner slices to see where your taste buds land.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Grilling season is upon us! After a not-so-brutal winter, I miss the summer cookouts. As much as I love a good hamburger, red meat is not the healthiest of options. This black bean alternative is a great substitute and tastes better than a beef burger. Top it off with guacamole, this burger is an instant summer classic. This comes in at only 5 Weight Watcher’s Plus Points compared to the 8 Weight Watcher’s Plus Points for a 98% lean beef burger (patties only. buns are extra points). I paired this meal with my sesame garlic green beans.