Tag Archives: quick and easy

Quick & Easy Julienned Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Thyme

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If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve come across at least one comment I’ve made about squash in general.  It’s something I didn’t learn to like until I was in my early twenties with two babies at home and a small garden that produced zucchini the size of battleships.  I became quite adept at figuring out what to do with those behemoths, and more importantly, our resources were meager, so being creative with squash became a fascination in general.

It seems like that was a few lifetimes ago, and since then, although I continue to learn about and experiment with different kinds of squash, I am always amazed to find how good it really is even with very little preparation.

When the friend I was visiting recently on my trip east graciously allowed me to prepare dinner my last night with her, she volunteered to make a veggie side dish which happened to be squash.  She used a julienne peeler tool I’ve had in my kitchen for several years and have been less than successful with to slice some zucchini she’d purchased from a roadside stand that day.

I’ve only recently tried spaghetti squash and love it, but this was so much more easy — no baking required!  And yes, it really did remind me of pasta if I need to say that.

Have you tried squash prepared this way before?

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Southwest Tomato Gazpacho

For the past five years or so, my very best friend and I have diligently gone to Tomatomania each April when it comes to town.  We may have missed a year somewhere in that time, but still buy tomato plants elsewhere so we can make like suburban farmers and enjoy our own home grown, warmed by the sun orbs of summer lusciousness.  I have to fess up and say my friend’s plot is quite huge so she can let her tomato plants grow wildly over the sunny terraced hillside behind her house, whereas I am only a poser who keeps two large pots near the side of my house.  And if those tomato plants are lucky, they’ll get most of the sun they’re supposed to have.  I’ve had good years, and then I’ve had not so good years — like this year.

My plants are tall and scraggly, have been producing lots of blossoms, but very few tomatoes.  Yes, they’ve been appropriately watered and fertilized.  I even remembered to plant them making sure the first sprout of leaves was buried.  I tried egg shells around the stems this year, too, and ironically, this is the first year I’ve had stems rot.  I’m about ready to rip them out of their pots to plant something else.  However, my friend is having a bumper crop.

After paying $6 for a gorgeous heirloom tomato at one of our fabulous farmer’s markets last Sunday, she called to say she wanted to drop off some tomatoes, then the very next day sent me home with more.  What does one do with so many tomatoes outside of occasionally enjoying one sliced and lightly salted?

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Boston Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado, Corn, & Tomatoes

One of the things my husband will tell you I ask him is whether he’s had anything green during the day.  He’s fairly patient with this interrogation because he’s intelligent and knows that ultimately, regardless of what he eats, there have to be vegetables in his diet– especially brightly colored vegetables.  But sometimes, green is enough, and often easier because all it takes to incorporate it into a day’s worth of meals is to have a salad.  A big salad.

I know many think salad is a warm weather dish, but to me, it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure vegetables are on the plate.  Fresh vegetables.  Nothing fancy — just a mix of what sounds good, what’s in the fridge, or what’s in season.  And?

The salad needs to take up half the plate.

I grew up eating salads made exclusively with iceberg lettuce.  I’m sure many of us did, and from what we now know, it’s because that’s what was in the market.  Zero choice.  But one of the first types of lettuce I discovered when I was freshly moved out of my mother’s house was Boston Butter Lettuce.  It was beautiful, delicate, and something I’d never seen before.  Although I originally saw it in small heads placed in rows upside down in the produce rack, more and more, the heads I’ve become accustomed to seeing are larger.  Much larger, and sealed safely inside plastic containers to keep them from being bruised.  I felt decadent the first time I bought a head of butter lettuce,  enjoying the tender leaves with all kinds of tasty salad ingredients, and thinking that yes, it tasted a bit on the buttery side.

During our short trip to Laguna Beach this past summer, we had a late lunch on the balcony overlooking the beach at The Beach House.  Although we both agreed the food was wonderful, I especially enjoyed the completely green salad made of a whole head of butter lettuce and all other green ingredients tucked under the leaves. Avocado, green striped tomatoes, green onions — wonderful.

When I saw the “Boston Lettuce Salad with Herbs” in the September issue of Food & Wine, I decided to make a similar version of a delicious Boston Butter Lettuce Salad.

Perfect for dinner, a special occasion, or just lunch all by yourself.

Check off your greens for the day!

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Old-Fashioned Peach Pandowdy

I love stone fruit, but haven’t taken advantage of it this season, waiting until now to wonder about new fangeled varieties of plums or pick up a few of the enormous peaches I’ve been seeing at the market.  The last four beauties I purchased sat around until my husband asked about whether he could put one in a smoothie he was making for us to share.  I couldn’t say no because if they sat on the counter any longer while providing me a visual reminder of what I was supposed to be planning to cook with them, they would be well past their prime– especially with the heat we’ve recently had.

And I was just waxing about Fall, wasn’t I?

You may not remember, but some time ago I promised a recipe for peach pandowdy and time has just slipped away while I’ve been cooking other things.  But I remembered, and as much as I was planning on putting these peaches in the perfect salad, they had pandowdy written all over them.

What’s a pandowdy, you ask?  It’s fruit tossed with sugar and whatever flavorings you’d like to add.  It’s tucked nicely under a simple biscuit crust and baked until it’s hot, juicy,  and full of the fruit flavor you’ve packed it with.  But there are other versions of this old-fashioned dessert.  I’ve heard that some may like baking the dough topper separately, then adding it while the fruit is baking.  Although I haven’t tried that version, I will say I’d probably miss the doughy underside of that topping which only happens when it’s placed on the fruit from the start and baked with it.

You may also wonder how a pandowdy is different from a cobbler, crisp, crumble, buckle, Brown Betty, grunt, slump or sonker, but I’m not an expert.   I grew up eating cobblers and crisps, and have heard of all but a sonker, which evidently, is taken quite seriously in some parts of North Carolina.

Have some fun with this simple recipe!

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Double Decker Panino

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Monday has become my favorite day of the week. My husband will tell you it’s because he’s gone back to work leaving me to my quiet house and accompanying quiet life, but I’d say it has more to do with looking forward to all that a new week brings.

For us, this particular week marks the last of a grueling busy season which begins in earnest after the first of the year, slowly building in intensity with extended hours of work each day. At first, the hours are added on the end of weekdays, then begrudgingly, the alarm is set earlier in the morning as well.  Saturdays at the office quickly follow, and a card table surfaces on Sundays in our family room where production is set up for a good six hours or more with any number of sports playing on the muted TV. This year, our SDSU Aztecs’ winning season and March Madness provided a pleasant diversion until their crushing loss to UCONN.

But there’s always next year, isn’t there?

This past week, the days have been more than 12 hours long.  Saturday was a full day, and Sunday, the card table was left folded against a wall in the living room for another full day spent at the office.

Only seven days remain.

Dinner is usually not complicated because we eat late. I wait for him so we can have a bit of time together, maybe watch a recorded show.

A good grilled sandwich is perfect for a Sunday evening after an 85-hour work week.  The sweet potato fries I was going to make to enjoy with our panini will just have to wait for an evening later this week.

Do you have a panini pan?

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