Oh Summer. We loved you. We will always love you. Some things just epitomize summer in the best of ways. I love summer more than any other season by far and I love everything that goes along with summer, too. Long days, warm nights, sunscreen, sandy feet, popsicles, sticky hands. And watermelon. Is there anything more summery than a juicy watermelon dripping down your face and arms? I’m pretty sure there isn’t.
So, to celebrate the end of Summer, I give you a concoction that pretty much looks and tastes exactly like summer should. And the best part is, you can choose how you want to eat it. Here’s what you need: Watermelon, cucumber, and lime.
You could just throw in watermelon, peeled cucumber and a squeeze of lime juice into your tall cup and blend it, throw in some ice cubes and you have the most perfect porch drink. Or you could freeze some of the watermelon chunks beforehand, blend those together with un-frozen watermelon, some cucumber and lime juice and now you’ve got a watermelon slushie.
Or add in some rum, because why the heck not?
You could also freeze the whole mess into popsicle molds and enjoy it as a frozen snack instead of a beverage. It doesn’t matter how you eat it. Just do yourself a favor and blend up watermelon, cucumber, and lime, take a sip (or a lick) and enjoy these last days before fall sets in. You deserve it.
Watermelon-Cucumber-Lime drink (inspired by Yes, I Want Cake)
- Watermelon chunks; half of them frozen, half not frozen.
- cucumber, peeled
- Rum (optional)
Blend everything together! If you use frozen watermelon you don’t even need ice!
You guys. Do you buy pasta sauce? Like, in a jar? At the store? For like waaay too much money for a sauce that is just kind of..meh? Or even maybe good but, come on, three fifty for a jar that will only last for like one box of pasta and if you don’t use it all you’ll shove it in the back of the fridge and forget about it and it will get moldy and then you just wasted at least a dollar of jarred pasta sauce? Well, cut it out people! Don’t you know how dang easy it is to make sauce that’s at least one zillion times better than that stuff you’ve been buying? Plus it’s cheaper and you know what goes into it so you aren’t eating weird things you can’t pronounce and 12 times the daily recommended amount of sodium. Plus you can freeze it in airtight containers so you don’t end up with colonies of weird stuff growing in the back of your fridge.
So. Pasta sauce. Go make some. It takes no time at all and your mouth will be so happy with you. Promise.
There are a zillion recipes out there for pasta sauce. This is one of the versions I have made, but honestly all it takes is a can of tomatoes, some fat (think olive oil or butter) and maybe an onion. Seriously. Or instead of onion, throw in basil. Or italian seasoning. Whateevvaaaaa. It’s dead simple, is what I’m trying to say, to make pasta sauce.. so you can now happily boycott
- 1-2 medium carrots
- 1-2 onions (2 if they are small like mine, one is fine if you buy the giant onions)
- 3-4 stalks of celery
- some glugs of olive oil
- 1 28-oz can tomatoes (chopped, whole, it doesn’t matter. Buy whatever is on sale, just make sure it isn’t tomato sauce as that won’t have enough body)
- splash of whatever red wine you are drinking (sure you can leave this out.. but I highly recommend putting some in.)
- handful of fresh basil, parsley, oregano or whatever other herbs you have on hand. (You can use dried if you must, but if ever there was a reason to get a pot and grow some basil.. this would be it.)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop up your onions, carrots and celery all to roughly the same size; a medium dice. You want everything chopped small but don’t kill yourself chopping for hours to mince it or anything. This is called a mirepoix. You are now fancy and French; congratulations.
- Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat with a few sizable glugs of olive oil. Once nice and hot, throw in your mirepoix and let it cook until the veggies are softened and the onion is translucent. This will take at least 5 minutes, and could take as long as 10 or 15. Have a bit of patience here. I’ll sometimes let it go a little longer until the onions start to caramelize, but that’s up to you.
- Splash in some red wine and stir, stir, stir to get all the yummy bits that have stuck to the bottom up. Then toss in your whole can of tomatoes, juices and all. Turn the heat down a bit to medium low, pop a lid on this and let it cook, stirring occasionally until your house smells like heaven, the tomatoes are starting to break down, and the sauce is starting to look a bit more like sauce. This will take a minimum of 20 minutes, but you can let it go for as long as you want. The longer you cook it, the deeper the flavors will become.
- Ladle your sauce into the bullet large pitcher/blender attachment fitted with the cross blade and blend for about 5-10 seconds. You want the sauce to still have some texture, you’re just blending out the chunks so don’t let it go too long. [I used the blender attachment because this is a large amount of sauce.. and goodness gracious I'm pretty sure this sauce is what the bullet was made to blend. It whizzed it to the perfect consistency in literally 6 seconds and I was able to fit all the sauce in two full batches. If you are using a tall cup it will take a lot more batches and you'll need to be a lot more careful of steam/pressure buildup so I highly recommend using the big blender attachment. It's a dream].
- Put the blended sauce back on the heat and toss in your chopped fresh herbs [if you are using dried herbs, I would actually throw them in before you blend in order to make sure they get hydrated]. Stir, bring it back up to heat, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve over your favorite pasta, use as a dipping sauce, pizza sauce, whatever! You just made marinara! Wasn’t that easy?!
Welcome, Magic Bullet, to my humble abode. I’m so excited for all sorts of multi-purposing in our future together.
But what to start with? Maybe something easy. And healthy. I read lifestyle blogs all day long and easy and healthy seems to be the trend nowadays so why not?
I decided to try out the Lean Green Smoothie featured on Camille Styles blog. I adapted it a little and my ingredients are listed below.
Here are the players:
Pretty healthy looking group right?
- 1/ 2 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- 1 cup of baby spinach leaves (I was hesitant about this but I did it anyway and couldn’t taste a thing! Which means its negligible flavor-wise, but essential for the healthy ingredients quota.)
- 10 mint leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- Crushed ice
Basically, you want to cut everything up…
So that it will comfortably fit in your bullet, like so…
Blend until you have a nice smooth… well, smoothie.
I decided on the green party cup because I intended to tote this delicious mix to work. But someone had different plans for this lean green machine.
It never even stood a chance.
There’s this whole debate in the blogosphere about the blurring of reality and fiction. In the sense, that sometimes you write what you think people want to read as opposed to what you really think or you begin omitting truths. Well, I have a truth to tell you that I don’t tell a lot of people.
I don’t like pancakes.
There. I said it.
“Blasphemy!” you say. “Who doesn’t like pancakes?!” you ask.
Yup, that’s me—the weirdo who doesn’t like pancakes. BUT, I decided to give this old favorite another try. And since I’m trying to maintain some semblance of healthy eating, I thought I’d give Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes a go.
Now, I got a recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and I halved it. But I still ended up with enough pancake mix for the entire Duggar clan. So depending on how many pancakes you eat, you might want to consider making only a third of this recipe. I ended up keeping most of it in an airtight container for another day.
You want to take the oats and grind them using the Flat Blade. Grind to your heart’s desire. Ours turned into a fine powder but next time we might try leaving it in thicker bits—just to try out the texture.
- 3 1/2 cups rolled (quick) oats
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
Mix all of the dry ingredients together.
Slowly add the olive oil. When you squeeze the pancake mix together it should stick together slightly.
Now that you have your mix, let’s make pancakes!
Whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup buttermilk (I just used milk—I’m a rebel, I know.), and 1 egg.
The mix will seem really runny at first, but the oats will actually absorb the liquid. So give it a few minutes before you start adding more mix.
To make this a little less “granola” we added some berries. I threw the pancake batter and some fresh raspberries and blueberries into the Bullet.
Once you’ve added your various accoutrements, heat up that griddle!
I’m no pancake expert, but the internet seems to come to the consensus that your pan should be hot enough that when you put some water drops on it that they should dance around. Dancing water droplets, that’s the measure of a properly heated pan.
Pour your batter in and let the edges dry out and bubbles rise to the surface.
Now with great conviction, slide your spatula underneath your pancake and give it a flip. I found that the later pancakes were much better looking than the first few. So don’t be disheartened if yours look funny at first. They still taste good and the third round will look better than the first.
Don’t these look great?!
Doused in real, bonafide maple syrup. I think that might be the real secret to liking pancakes. But the pancakes alone were pretty darn good too.
I’m going to go ahead and assume you all know what Jamba Juice is. Is that a safe assumption? No? Well, it’s a smoothie joint. My little brother happens to work there, actually. Anyway, they make smoothies. Dang good ones, if I do say so myself. But honestly, five bucks for some berries in a blender? No thanks. I’d rather make it myself. And I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I make really good smoothies. But they have this one smoothie there that is ridiculous. It shouldn’t be called a smoothie, it should be called a shake, really. It’s ri-donk-ulous. It’s called the Peanut Butter Moo’d. They have it in chocolate, too. But I’m still not willing to fork out the dough for it. Not to mention it’s like five zillion calories. Seriously. Not that I even care. But. Still.
Enter: Bullet. Also: frozen bananas. I’ve already told you guys how these suckers can make freakin ice cream, yo, and now I’m here to tell you they are clearly the secret to a creamy peanut butter shake. Which you are more than welcome to add chocolate to. I added nutella. Because, why wouldn’t you?
- 1 frozen banana, 1 non-frozen banana cut into chunks. (Here we have these little mini bananas called apple bananas. They’re the best things ever. But if you don’t have those, and are using regular ol’ cavendash which are ginormous, you could just use half one of each frozen and non frozen)
- 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter (ps this is one serving size. score for portion control!)
- a few glugs of milk
- Nutella, like, however much you want.
- I also threw in a couple chunks of frozen papaya because a) they were severely freezer burned and needed to go and b) I thought they’d add a bit of sweet that would be nice. you could throw in whatever frozen fruit you have on hand: peaches, mango, whatevs. Maybe not berries because they are a) tart and b) red which means you’d have a nasty color smoothie. Just sayin’.
Do you like piña coladas? And dancing in the rain? If so, it sounds like we could be friends.
Since rum isn’t my favorite liquor, I decided to make some virgin piña coladas to try and beat the heat. These are just as good as alcoholic ones and are totally acceptable to drink at any function.
I got the recipe from Paula Deen who I still love in spite of her diabetes debacle. She has a really interesting life; I would know, I read her autobiography. You should check it out sometime when you feel up for an easy, food-related read.
ANYWAY, cut up some pineapple. This recipe calls for only a ¼ of a cup, but I added more because I like mine with a punch of pineapple.
Then add in your cream of coconut and your coconut milk. Which are indeed two different things and you shouldn’t substitute one for the other. It will taste funny.
Now, I have to warn you that these yield highly sweet, rich drinks. What else would you expect from Paula? To counteract this, I added a ton of ice to a) water it down some and b) make it ice cold—which I think is a necessity for enjoying a drink like this.
I also felt it was necessary to shake it like a Polaroid picture, too.
I swear these were non-alcoholic in spite of this last blurry picture. I wouldn’t lie to you. But feel free to alcohol it up. Just drink responsibly. And don’t email me when everything seems so loud the next morning.
Wait! Don’t click away! Don’t be afraid! Don’t run in fear of the word ‘pea’ or the dreaded combination of ‘pea’ and ‘soup’ in the *gasp* same! Sentence! Because I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking you hate peas. You’re thinking peas are those nasty still-half-frozen-rewarmed-in-the-microwave slimy green balls your parents made you eat before you could have dessert. Those dreaded vegetables that exploded green taste into your mouth when you accidentally bit on one instead of just swallowing them whole. Believe me, I know. Or maybe you’re more like my boyfriend, who, despite the fact that he ate basically only meat and rice for twenty-five years of his life, and eschewed essentially all vegetables and fruits in existence for the majority of his life, still ate peas…because he liked them. I shudder just to think of it.
But wherever you stand on the great Pea Debacle of 2012, let me tell you this: you’ll like this soup. Really! I promise. It doesn’t even taste like peas. It tastes like.. springtime. And it looks like springtime, too, even though I took these pictures at night so they really don’t do the color justice. (Argh, artificial lighting!) So, do me a teeny favor. Grab a bag of frozen peas and a bunch of basil. Chances are you probably already have peas in your freezer, y’know, for those times when you need to ice your cuts and bruises. Lord knows that’s what I use them for most of the time. And make this soup. It takes so little time, and you’ll be so glad you did.
Pea and Basil Soup (this is actually adapted from a recipe posted on Gwenyth Paltrow’s blog, GOOP. It is one of a series of ‘detox’ recipes, but don’t let that scare you off either!)
- 1 bag frozen peas (16 oz? or 10? However big a bag you get will work just fine)
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped. (We didn’t have any onion on hand last time we made this, so I just used the tops and bottoms of green onions from our garden. Use whatever kind of onionish-thing you like; shallots, red or yellow or white or green onions, leeks, no matter!)
- 1 large handful basil, plus whatever other herbs you have on hand if you feel like it… (The more the merrier here! If you buy a bunch, use the whole thing! If you have it in your garden use as much as your plants can spare!)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
- a few glugs of olive oil
- lemon wedge for serving (optional, but highly recommended)
*Before I begin, I want to emphasize that you will be blending hot foods. Whenever you are blending hot liquid, you really need to be careful, as pressure can build up and explode, sending scalding hot liquid all over you and your nice apron. Or white shirt. So, a few tips to remember: Never fill your blender or tall cup all the way full. Leave at least an inch to an inch and a half of room at the top. Pulse once, and then carefully unscrew the top to release pressure. Do this a couple of times before attempting to blend for longer than a couple seconds, as most of the pressure will be released the first few times you open the cap. You can make this either in the tall cup or in the bigger blender attachment; with the bigger blender attachment it is easier to release pressure from the lid. If you use the tall cup just be gentle when you unscrew the crossblade.*
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Toss in your onions and let cook for a few minutes or until softened and translucent.
- Add in your peas (totally cool if they are still frozen!) and cook until they are, well, no longer frozen. pour in all your water and heat until boiling. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, just to make sure everything is steamy hot. Rip up your basil and toss it in there. Inhale. It smells good already.
- Carefully, and I mean SUPER carefully, ladle a few scoops of your soup into the Magic Bullet tall cup. Top with the crossblade and pulse once. Then CAREFULLY untwist the crossblade to release the pressure. Re-cap and repeat this two or three times, then you can blend it for a few seconds longer, until it is smooth and creamy.
- Pour into a bowl or another pot (I pour it into the bowls I’ll eventually serve it in, so as to save on dishes. Score!) and repeat 3-4 times with the remaining soup. Once all has been pureed, pour everything back into the pot, re-heat over medium heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into bowls, squeeze a lemon wedge on top, eat with a loaf of crusty bread, and enjoy!
I think avocados are probably one of the best green things ever. I mean. There are some really good green things, like, plants, and, lettuce. (Lettuce? That was all I could come up with? Seriously?) But avocados… they’re just so good! Do you agree? Or are you crazy like those crazy people who don’t dream of the creamy fruit and all the ways they can eat it? All the ways I can eat it are usually just smashed up with lime and salt. I’m not very creative. But it really never gets old. Plus, is there anything better than cutting into it, twisting it open, and seeing the two most perfect shades of green on the planet in the same neat little package, just waiting for you to scoop it out and shove it in your mouth?!?! I think not.
Anyways. I made this avocado dip. It’s basically the same way I always eat avocado, only with yogurt added. But here’s why I think you should try it (besides just, duh, it’s avocado): this dip has a lot of possibilities. Seriously! I could see it as a ridiculous salad dressing, thinned out with double the lime juice and maybe a bit more yogurt. Or mix in some Cholula or Tapatio or Valentina (whichever is your favorite. Mine’s Cholula, but Brett likes Valentina) and spread it in your quesadilla. Or be like me: Dip in your chips and shove it in your face. Just eat it.
Creamy Avocado Dip
- 1 medium, ripe avocado, scooped from skin and diced
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 3 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp salt
- few grinds black pepper
I don’t know why I think olives are fancy. But I do. Also, you should know, you are speaking to a reformed olive-hater. Yep. I hated olives. Pretty hardcore, actually. Almost as much as I hated beans. Actually, maybe even more than I hated beans. I don’t know why. I don’t have a reason. I think it was because olives tend to be a bit vinegar-y… kind of like pickles, which I also hated. I kind of still don’t like pickles. They’re growing on me, though. But olives. I made it a point to learn to like them. Is that weird? We were out to dinner one night, and they gave us olives with our bread or something or other, and I took one and I looked at Brett and I said.. “I am going to make myself like olives.” So I ate a small bite. Then the next time I took a bigger bite. And bigger. And now, well I kind of like olives. I actually quite enjoy them. Even green ones, which took me longer just because they’re creepy-looking.
So there’s this olive spread. Our friend makes it. I’ve liked it since even before I liked olives. This isn’t that olive spread. I’ll get that recipe eventually. But I had leftover olives in my fridge and I wanted spread. So I forged ahead recipe-less. And came up with this. It’s pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. So if you happen to like olives, or even if you think you don’t, or if you’d like to like olives but you don’t quite yet, go ahead and try this. I like it.
Olive Spread (inspired by this recipe, but I really just looked at the basic ingredients so I don’t think it ended up resembling it at all.)
- approx 15 oz black olives, pitted. (not gonna lie to you guys; I used 6.75 ounces because that’s how much I had leftover. But normal people don’t have that many olives. One can or one jar ranges from 12-15 oz, so the recipe I’m giving you is for one can or one jar; it’s double what I actually made. Make sense? Good.)
- 3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- Throw everything into your tall cup and fit with the crossblade. To blend this, because it’s very dry, you’ll want to pulse it several times, and then shake it down and pulse again, and then let it blend but shake the whole bullet apparatus, base and all, while it’s blending. Do this until it’s fairly smooth, but not baby food; you want a bit of texture in it.
- You can spread this on bread or toast; I ate it with tortilla chips because, well, they were closest to me and I’m lazy. It was delish. And it’s fancy. Because it’s olives.
In high school I used to spend a lot of time hanging out on my best friends’ families’ couches. Oftentimes I would find myself making bologna sandwiches and eating their leftovers, too. I loved them for letting me into their homes and their kitchens. It’s there that I discovered my love for eating frozen fruit. Plain. This fruit was really meant for smoothies, but I liked it all alone. Still do.
But when that wasn’t cutting it for me, I thought I would try out Jamie Oliver’s One-Minute Berry Ice Cream. I wouldn’t say it’s ice cream, but it does take about a minute and it does taste just as good. One could say it’s even better because this is actually better for you. And therefore, you feel better about eating it.
Grab whatever frozen fruit and yogurt you have on hand. Instead of plain Greek yogurt I used Mango Greek Yogurt, which gave it a nice tang.
Throw all the ingredients into a party cup—I like to bring mine to the living room to eat on the couch while watching trash television—and blend until smooth.
But don’t over blend because it will become too liquidy and you’ll have yourself a smoothie instead.
All there’s left to do now is grab a spoon and have yourself some guilt free dessert! I may or may not have justified eating two of these cups because they’re “healthy.”