Summer Party Eats

Summer Party Eats
Summer Party Eats

Even though it is already October and I’m supposed to be Basic B*&^%ing it up with #PSLforLife, I’m still thinking about summer eats.  This Tucson “cold spell” with a high of 90 degrees isn’t exactly parka weather.

I was in a weird cooking rut all summer.  I realized part of the reason for the rut was that I was relying on too many tried and true recipes and it was making me bored.  Part of my creative outlet in the kitchen is trying new techniques, ingredients, and recipes.  It helps when I get some wins.  I’m all about less effort and maximum impact but on the other hand, happy to put in the work to yield an excellent result.  Long story short, I have tried some of the things on my long “to make” list and it was worth it, I’m much more excited about getting into the kitchen.  Also, making my husband fire up the grill more regularly definitely takes some pressure off me.

A few weeks ago, we had some lovely friends over and I wanted to make a cocktail.  I had suspicions that my friend may be pregnant, so I was sure to have it in alcohol free components.  Using this tequila watermelon cocktail recipe as a guide, I made a watermelon juice (easy- cut up watermelon, run in the food processor, strain), added lime juice, and simple syrup on the side.  WITH TEQUILA, Of course!!!  We had this salsa on the side, which I make a lot.  It is so easy, inexpensive, and more delicious than most store options.  To start off, we had the pioneer woman’s 7 layer dip.  There are tons of variations on this, and I don’t include black olives because yuck (in this context).

I was feeling wild, so I made chocolate cake.  This is my favorite chocolate bundt.  It has all my requirements for a yummy homemade cake: buttermilk, oil (butter dries it out), and cocoa powder.  It’s remarkably easy for being quite a show stopper of a dessert.  We had other things, but I’m not sure how I feel about the meat dish.  It was ok, not the best.


Peaches with Honey, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

Peaches with Honey, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts
Peaches with Honey, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

Hi.  Ummm.  Is this thing on?  Long time no post, eh?  Well, it is certainly not because I am not cooking (double negative, gross), but sometimes you have to live life.  I have been cooking my way through a few cookbooks this year, which I would love to tell you more about. The subject at hand is peaches.  When I was little, I think I ate too many ripe and juicy Georgia peaches in one sitting [and got really itchy all over].  Later, I realized that it was hard to find those perfect peaches, hence the gorging.  When we had a CSA in NJ, it was the first time in a while that I bothered with the peaches.  It’s just so hard to find that perfect peach and the peaches sold in the grocery store were a far cry from what I envisioned.  Here in AZ, it seems to be a bit easier for them to get it straight with produce in general, so I found myself drawn to the peach display at the store.  With my grocery shopping, generally I try to stick to the list, but with fresh fruit, I just buy what is in season and looks good.

I thought I would ease myself in here with a easy one.  It’s not even a recipe.  And peaches are probably no longer in season where you are.  However, it was a pretty awesome flash of brilliance on my part, so I wanted it recorded here.

Peaches with Honey, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts




2 tbsp goat cheese

1 tbsp pine nuts


Slice peaches into wedges.  Drizzle honey over peaches to taste.  Crumble goat cheese onto peaches.  Sprinkle with pine nuts.  Enjoy!

April Foodie Penpals

Foodie Penpals!! You know the drill.  Or do you?  The lovely Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean matches up healthy eaters with one another, we get to know eachother over the interwebs and send a box of goodies via the old fashioned postal service and make sure we don’t only get boring bills in the mail.  If you want to participate, go here.

The Lean Green Bean

I have had incredible luck with my matches and this month was no differnt.  Johanne at Diary of a Hungry Québécoise  put together a lovely assortment of treats from Charlottesville, VA.  I have spent a little time in her town and can attest to its loveliness!  She included some amazing maple cookies, vegetable pasta, peach cider, and goat cheese caramel sauce.  Everything is amazing and she included the loveliest little card.



If you are thinking about joining us next month, don’t delay!  Happy Tuesday!


The Farmer’s Market Round Up

Per my Summer Bucket List (which my brother has informed me that bucket lists and the use of the YOLO is enough to end a relationship for him.  Whatevs), I pledged to shop at the Farmer’s Market at least 2 times per month.  Well, I surpassed this goal completely because shortly after attending the farmer’s market, we joined a CSA.  We love it.  While the zucchini was a bumper crop this year and I made more zucchini chocolate cake than I would like to admit, I still highly recommend it.  New Jersey is a great place for produce!  New Jersians should be proud of the bounty their land yields: beautiful tomatoes, corn, peaches, eggplant, kale, potatoes, peppers and much much more.

We get our CSA from the Stony Hill Farm and highly recommend it to anyone looking for one.  We get an email every week outlining what to expect in our box, storage suggestions, and even recipes for those items.  Our pick up is in our town and very easy.  We also added to our share a dozen fresh eggs from the farm.

The CSA has pushed my out of my cooking comfort zone, forcing me to cook with food that I wouldn’t usually purchase (hello, eggplant) and I have really added to my list of recipes!  Listed below are a few recipes that have been made (some multiple times) this summer with our goods:

I leave you with this simple corn salad as a great summer side dish (oh summer please don’t go).

Corn Salad
2 strips bacon, chopped
6 ears of corn with the kernels chopped off
pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
salt and pepper

1.  Cook the bacon, rendering the fat.  Once cooked, remove the bacon to drain and pour out the bacon grease so that only about 2 tablespoons remain in the pan.  Save the poured out bacon grease for something else (green smoothie, anyone?).

2.  At medium-high heat, add the kernels of corn, cooking until the corn gets some color on it.

3.  Dump in a serving dish and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and any other seasoning.

Dinner Time: Salmon with Blueberry Sauce

As of late, my sweetie (Sparky), has been clipping recipes that he wants to eat.  He doesn’t really read the ingredient list or the method, he mainly picks them based on title.  Regardless, I appreciate the input.  Even if I don’t like what he has chosen, I can use it as inspiration for something else that he may like. He is a pretty active guy and eats a lot so sometimes I need a little direction.  This time around, he made a good choice.  We have joined a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) and have been inundated with produce.  A good thing.  We have fresh fruit and vegetables every week.  A very good thing.  One thing was blueberries!  Sparky sent me this Salmon With Agrodolce Blueberries and off I went.

It was majorly easy.  I forgot how much a sauce can impact a dish with such little effort.  Another good thing!  This sauce is low maintenance too, you can totally be doing other things (like chopping one of your many zucchinis) while periodically checking on the sauce.  Also, it is relatively few ingredients.  Low lift, as a friend of mine says.  This is a gourmet treat for a weeknight.  Sure, you have to turn on the oven but you can take advantage and throw in some cookies for dessert while scarfing the salmon.  I hate to be bossy (I cant help it) but, make this recipe.  It even has a fancy name: Salmon With Agrodolce Blueberries.  Why are you still sitting there?  Off the computer you go!