What Gazpacho Taught Me About My Tastebuds

green gazpacho

It was a fun week experimenting with my Farmer’s Market goodies. I enjoyed only having to throw everything into a blender and then TA-DA…dinner was served! All of my summer produce was showcased so nicely in its raw state. Nothing beats summer veggies at their freshest, and using them in a crisp, bright gazpacho served before the main dish is the perfect way to highlight their awesomeness. So get out to the Farmer’s Market and see what you can find. Use these recipes only as a starting point, and let whatever bounty you score be the star of your dish.

 

white gazpacho

 

Gazpacho week has taught me something I had long forgotten about my tastebuds…they don’t like raw onion. And guess what? Gazpacho is packed full of raw onion. Raw everything, right? Next time I make gazpacho I think I’m going to cheat a bit. I’m going to sauté whatever onion, shallot or leek the recipe calls for before I chunk it into the blender. Problem solved. If you’re not a fan of raw onion I encourage you to do the same when you play with these two recipes. You’ll be happier with the results and will still only have to do minimal cooking. However, if you’re not worried about that strong taste and resulting strong breath, give the recipe a whirl as is.

Happy cooking!

Green Goddess Gazpacho

green goddess gazpacho

3 spring onions
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1 green pepper, cut into a few chunks
2 cucumbers, cut into large chunks
1 avocado
5 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh dill or dried dill weed, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Throw everything in the blender and puree until smooth. Garnish with dill, a dollop of plain greek yogurt, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve.

 

Nutty White Gazpacho

nutty white gazpacho

1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 slices of crustless white bread
1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 ounces)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped (optional to saute)
1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds
1/2 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and white pepper, to taste

  1. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and drain well.
  2.  In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of cold water with the cooked cauliflower, bread, pine nuts, chopped garlic, sherry vinegar, chopped shallot, 1 cup of the slivered almonds and the coarsely chopped cucumber; blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse just until incorporated. If necessary, add more water to thin the gazpacho. Season the soup with salt and pepper and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  3.  Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup of slivered almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 6 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Ladle the gazpacho into bowls. Garnish the soup with the toasted almonds and the finely diced cucumber and serve.

 

Summer in a Salad

watermelontomsalad1_forweb

It’s almost the 4th of July! How did that happen so fast? July 4th is always so much fun in California, and this year it will be almost perfection as my parents are making a last minute trip to join us. I’m so excited! I’m quickly learning that two grandchildren is twice the lure of one. I guess that may seem obvious but we already got a good amount of visits from the grands with just Kellan; but now that Allie is here too we recently got a fun surprise visit from BJ’s mom and dad and now my parents are coming again! I’m loving it! I can’t wait to share all of the July 4th festivities with Nonni and Papa. We’ll go to the beach, grill something tasty, and cap it off with fireworks in Dana Point. I also cannot WAIT to dress my littles in their red, white and blue outfits…there’s going to be a lot of cuteness going on!

Whoa sorry, that was not where I intended to go with this blog. I wanted to talk about Summer. Summer is in full swing and it is absolutely glorious. Warm nights, beautiful sunsets, fun beach days…I LOVE Summer. I also love this salad. Watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, basil, feta cheese and lemon juice- this salad embodies all that is good about Summer. It’s all about seasonal bounty; it’s simple, lightly dressed and a little flirty. If ever Summer were found in a salad, it would be found in this one. There’s no real recipe here, just take as much as you like of those ingredients, throw it in a bowl and toss it in olive oil and lemon juice. Easy. You won’t even have to break a sweat in the kitchen for this one, and isn’t that always a happy thing?

Happy 4th!

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Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad

seedless watermelon, cut into bite sized pieces
heirloom tomatoes of all sizes and varieties, chopped or halved accordingly
feta cheese, crumbled
basil, chiffonade
pine nuts, toasted (optional)
lemon juice
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently and serve.

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What does Strawberry Shortcake mean to you?

strawberryshortcake

I love a good strawberry shortcake. If I see one on a dessert menu it’s always a given that I will be ordering it.  Make that any fruity dessert. I know I’ve said this before but when a dessert has fruit in it I feel like it’s practically healthy. Please don’t burst my bubble, I know I’m dreaming. Back to shortcakes.

When I was a little girl it was a real treat when my mom served strawberry shortcake after dinner. She usually made hers with the little round sponge cakes that can be found in the produce aisle by the berries. She would slice the strawberries, toss in some sugar to sweeten them up a bit, and pile them on the sponge cake topped with a dollop of cool whip. I loved it! It usually signified that summer time was here. Just imagining those little treats takes me back to warm southern evenings, playing with my little sister in the yard, drinking water from the hose pipe, and watching lightning bugs flicker in the twilight sky. Now that’s some yummy nostalgia for you.

It seems that everyone has a different idea of what strawberry shortcake looks like. For many it’s that yellow sponge cake, but for others it’s a slice of angel food cake or even ladyfingers. All are delish. Somewhere along the way I discovered another version of shortcake, one I’d like to argue takes the…cake…although it’s much less cake and much more biscuit. That’s right, my favorite version of Strawberry Shortcake is made with a crumbly, buttery, slightly sweet, drop biscuit.

A drop biscuit is a biscuit that has NOT been rolled out and cut into circles, it’s simply dropped (plopped, kerplunked, spooned) onto a baking sheet and baked. It’s free form; no fuss, no muss. It’s also easy. There are tons of recipes for these shortcakes out there, but I’ve included the easiest one I’ve used here. Don’t tell anyone, but I use Bisquick for mine. Who cares if it’s fancy, it’s tasty! I also like to mix it up with my strawberries and toss them with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. I like the subtle caramel flavor the brown sugar imparts, and to me the syrup created with brown sugar is thicker and richer in flavor than when regular granulated sugar is used. Want to take it even a step further? Add in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to your berries. There’s your fancy!

So what’s your favorite version of Strawberry Shortcake? I’m eager to hear what you love because who knows, it might become my new favorite down the road!

Strawberry Shortcake

2 1/3 cup original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Stir bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the melted butter until a soft dough forms.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls into 6 biscuits onto a greased sheet pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, combine strawberries and brown sugar. Mix and let sit 15 to 20 minutes or until a syrup forms.
  5. With an electric mixer beat heavy cream on high speed until it begins to thicken up. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until soft peeks form. Chill.
  6. To assemble shortcakes: Slice the biscuits in half. Top bottom half of one biscuit with some strawberries and syrup, and a dollop of whipped cream. Put top half of biscuit on top like a sandwich. Top with another dollop of whipped cream and then more berries and syrup. Serve.

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Easy ways to save HUNDREDS on your grocery bills…

Saving money is pretty awesome, especially when you’re saving money on things you have no choice but to buy. Groceries are one of those things. You have to buy them, so why not make each trip to the store a little less painful on your wallet?

Becoming a Menu Therapy subscriber is guaranteed to save you money each week. How? The meal plans you’ll be shopping for are always seasonal, meaning ingredients will be at their best price as well as at their peak flavor. Also, going to the store with a list in hand helps you stay on track and saves you from making impulse purchases on foods you won’t use or don’t need. Another major plus! Click here to find out how to become a subscriber.

As summer approaches and you have more fun and exciting things to spend your hard earned money on, check out these other 33 tips from POPSUGAR Smart Living to help you save BIG on your groceries.

Sweet, Sweet Summer

Summer Sauté Close Up

I can’t believe summer is almost behind us! How can that be? It seems like only a few short days ago I was excited about the arrival of spring and now it’s late August. Too fast! If you’re like us summer is a very busy time of year. Maybe it’s because we happen to live in a pretty fabulous destination spot and play host to family and friends during their annual vacations…which we LOVE doing…or maybe it’s because my husband and I both also see summer as the official countdown to college football season. Either way it’s here today and gone tomorrow like no other season. Luckily, we have a few more weeks to go; weeks in which I will make every possible trip to the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market I can, and grab all of my favorite summertime fruits and veggies as long as they’re available. My checklist of ingredients that I’ve yet to cook with this season is pretty long, but the good news is I’m back in the kitchen every night as usual so I have plenty of time to get cracking on them. First up next week- squash blossoms! Those little suckers will be stuffed with cheese and fried in a white wine batter as soon as I get my hands on them this weekend. Post to follow!

Last night I stumbled upon a very seasonal, very tasty, and very easy side dish. I’m so excited about this dish that I can’t wait to make it a part of the meal plan for our subscribers next week. If you’ve ever imagined what summer on a plate would taste like, this is it! Zucchini, sweet yellow corn and juicy cherry tomatoes tossed with thyme, oregano, basil, and parmesan cheese, all rounded out with a squeeze of lime juice. It’s hearty yet light, and the bright zing from the lime juice elevates the flavor above your average vegetable sauté or ratatouille. It’s everything a summer side dish should be- fun, bright, colorful, healthful and zippy! 🙂 I love it and can’t wait for you try it. Let me know what you think!

Summer Sauté in Pan

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 large zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup  grated Parmesan

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn.
  2. Add the zucchini and corn and sauté for 1 minute. Add in salt, pepper, basil, oregano and thyme. Continue to cook for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add in cherry tomatoes and lime juice and cook for just another minute more or until tomatoes just begin to burst.
  4. Toss in parmesan cheese and stir to coat. Serve.

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