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I got this recipe from my husband's aunt and made it for a Fathers' Day cookout, and it's our new way to eat summer vegetables. Colorful, fresh and flavorful. Not to mention really pretty and delicious. If you don't have access to a grill, I suspect this would work well in a wok or equivalent, too.



Grilled Balsamic-Rosemary Vegetables
-1 medium zucchini, sliced
-1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
-1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
-1 large red onion, cut into wedges and separated
-1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
-4-6 portobello mushroom caps, cut into chunks
-3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
-olive oil
-balsamic vinegar
-2-3 tablespoons fresh rosemary springs, chopped
-crumbled feta cheese

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Bonus Recipe(s) 2: A Plethora of Popsicles

Does anyone else immediately think of this scene when they hear the word 'plethora'? I do! :)

Anyway, here in Michigan, the hot and humid summer has started in full force. What better to cool down with than some popsicles? The kids and I have been making lots over the past couple weeks. They're easy, fun for the kids to help with, and of course yummy and refreshing!

First, some basic popsicle freezing and eating instructions: Once you have made the popsicle "mix," you need to pour it into popsicle molds. I found some simple plastic popsicle molds in our local CVS Pharmacy $1 bin, of all places. If you don't have molds, small paper cups will work great. For the sticks, I do not use the plastic sticks that came with my molds, because I figure they'd just get lost, as my kids and their neighborhood friends eat popsicles almost exclusively outside. I use wooden craft sticks instead - I got a bag of 400 for $2 at our grocery store.

So, once you have poured your popsicle "mix" into whatever mold you're using, pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes. Then take them out and insert your sticks, then freeze the rest of the way, until completely solid (usually a few hours or so). Then, to eat - if you used paper cups, just tear the paper away. If you have plastic molds, dip the molds in a bowl of warm water for a few moments and wiggle the stick; the popsicle should loosen shortly. Put it back into the freezer for a few minutes after it's out of the mold if it becomes too drippy for your liking.

Also, if you have extra popsicles, they save great if you just keep them in ziploc bags in the freezer.

Now, onto our popsicle recipes - these are the three kinds we've made so far this summer.



Fudgecicles
These were my own personal favorites. But I have a weakness for chocolate. Figures my kids' favorites would be the healthier options!

-2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 tablespoon corn starch
-1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
-a pinch of salt
-1 1/4 cups whole milk
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

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Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles
These were my 10-year-old's and my 4-year-old's favorites.

-1/2 to 3/4 quart fresh strawberries
-1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafers
-2 cups vanilla yogurt

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Orangesicles
These were my 7-year-old's favorites.

-3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
-6 oz. orange juice concentrate
-2 1/2 cups skim milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Week Twenty-Four: Spicy Black Bean Burgers

With summer upon us, what's better than some burgers? Of course, finding a good veggie burger recipe is sometimes a challenge. We definitely have a winner in this one, though. It's very deliciously flavorful, has a great texture, and we'll absolutely be making these again (doubling the recipe to allow for leftovers next time).

It's best to sauté or bake most homemade veggie burgers, rather than grill, since non-meat burgers tend to fall apart more easily than beef burgers. These held up really well in a pan, though, and I bet you could do them on a grill, although I'd probably still use a grill pan just in case.

Regardless of how you cook 'em up, though - wow. Delicious! My mouth watered just uploading the pictures. Not even kidding.



Spicy Black Bean Burgers
-olive oil
-4-5 scallions, sliced (about 1/2 cup total)
-1 medium-sized poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
-2 large cloves garlic, minced
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

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Bonus Recipe 1: Sweet Potato Fries

In addition to the recipes I'm posting weekly, there are some new ones I've made and not posted for whatever reason - they were sides to another new recipe I did post, I kind of cobbled them together over a few trial-and-errors, whatever. But then I thought - hey. I made the food, I took the damned picture, so why not post? So, every once in a while, I might toss up a 'bonus recipe' here (yes, they will all be new-to-me recipes this year, in keeping with the whole New Year's Resolution thing I've got going on). That's what this is all about.

So. This was one of those things I just cobbled together myself. I started making these for the kids as an after-school snack a few weeks ago. They're cheaper and healthier (and taste better) than, say, the frozen white potato fries and they don't take any more time – how long does it take to slice up and season a sweet potato? A minute? Two? So, two minutes more than frozen fries. Honestly. And I have a feeling with summer upon us, this will become more of a staple at mealtime, too. Burgers and fries, anyone?



Sweet Potato Fries
-1 large sweet potato
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-black pepper (a few shakes)
-garlic salt (a few shakes)

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We had the first extremely hot and humid week of the summer this past week. Not much cooking requiring heating elements was done, needless to say. I served this yummy salad with tacos (which only take about 5 minutes worth of heat). Definitely a great hot-weather meal.



Southwestern Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing
salad
-romaine lettuce (a couple cups – 5-6 large leaves), chopped
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 15 oz. can corn, drained
-2 large tomatoes, chopped
-3-4 green onions/scallions, sliced

dressing
-1 ripe avocado, chopped roughly
-3/4 cup salsa of your choice
-1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
-juice of one lime

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My mother in law gave me four leftover portabella mushroom caps she didn't know what to do with. I didn't know what to do with them, either - while I quite enjoy the deliciousness of mushrooms sauteed in a little butter, my kids won't eat them that way. A shame, I know. I'm still working on them.

But then I found this recipe. And - success! We all adore portabellas now. Also, this recipe was great for the sudden hot, humid summer weather we had this week, because there's no standing over a hot stove involved, and the oven is on for a minimal amount of time only.

(Note: This recipe would be great for the reluctant vegetarian in your life. Portabellas have a great meaty texture/taste and I've got a feeling someone who "misses meat" would not, in fact, miss meat with this dish.)


(crappy photo from my crappy phone because I couldn't find my camera)

Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps
-olive oil
-4 portabella mushroom caps, washed and stems removed
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/4 teaspoon dried basil
-1 cup marinara sauce
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

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Week Twenty-One: Spinach Cheese Burritos

This meal is simple and delicious. I love food like that. I also love the cookbook I found at the library, Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers, where I found this recipe. So much love. Yes, I read cookbooks for fun the way some people read novels.



Spinach Cheese Burritos
-olive oil
-1 bunch scallions (about 6-8), chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed dry (or equivalent fresh baby spinach – which according to the original recipe would be around 10 cups, chopped and loosely packed – but I was lazy this week, so frozen chopped it was)
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-2-3 cups grated cheese of your choice (I used colby jack)
-1/3 cup (3 oz.) cream cheese
-6 to 8 whole wheat tortillas (7 or 8 inch size)
-your favorite salsa, for topping

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Week Twenty: Zucchini Quinoa "Lasagna"

Okay. Make this. Right now. Right away. It is delicious. I made it one night this week. Promptly made it a couple nights later, too (had to use up the extra zucchini, you see. yeah, that's why.). It's one of my (our) new favorite things to eat. It's great for those who want to limit carbs...or just for those who want to eat good food. Something for everyone!

Also - quinoa. It's the only grain (actually, only non-animal-based food, I think) that is a complete protein. I don't like to eat it on its own (texture issues) so am always looking for ways to include it in our diet since it's so ridiculously good for you, especially for people who don't eat meat. Really something for everyone!



Zucchini Quinoa "Lasagna"
-2 medium-large zucchini
-salt
-1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (I used red quinoa; use whatever kind you want)
-2 cups vegetable stock or broth
-1/2 cup tomato sauce
-1/4 medium sweet onion, diced
-1 teaspoon ground oregano
-1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
-1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
-1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cream cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 24 oz. jar marinara/pasta sauce of your choice
-1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used monterey jack)

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Falafel is one of my favorite things to eat. This recipe deviates from tradition because they're baked rather than deep-fried but hey, that's healthier and doesn't make the house smell like hot oil. And these really do taste great. The sauce, though, makes the recipe. I am in love with this sauce.

(Note the falafel mixture should be prepared and refrigerated several hours before baking - or overnight, which I find much easier.)



Baked Falafel with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
Falafel
-15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
-1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
-4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-4-8 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Sauce
-1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
-1/2 cup tahini
-2 cloves garlic, peeled
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/4 teaspoon salt

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For most of this week, the weather was unseasonably cool here. Windy and rainy and chilly. It was a comfort food type of week. This recipe is delicious, and simple, too - and easy to modify according to your preferences. Definitely a winner.



Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons butter
-1 medium onion, finely diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-30 oz. tomato sauce
-salt and pepper to taste
-pinch of sugar (or more, depending on acidity of tomato sauce)
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 pound dry pasta of your choice
-grated Parmesan cheese to taste
-fresh basil, chopped

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