My Six Year Old Flirt

Scene: Coming out of the grocery store there is a handsome man standing on the sidewalk talking to a friend.

Alexis: (Looking at the man, blinking and then and giving him the best sweet grin you’ve ever seen.)

Dude: (Gives Alexis one of those melt the earth type of grins that only those drop dead gorgeous guys, who know they’re handsome as sin, can do.)

Alexis: (In a loud voice): Mom he’s hot!

Me: Alexis!

Dude: (Cracks up laughing and winks at her.)

Alexis: Well he is!

Me: Don’t say people are hot when they can hear you!

Alexis: But Moooooooooooommmmmmmmmmm, he’s cute!

Me: (Shaking my head as she and the dude keep grinning at each other.)

Can you imagine her teenage years? I don’t think I want to! 😉

Originally posted at Daffodil Lane.

Cocktail Time: Lemon Drop Martinis!

Cocktail Time! Let's Make Lemon Drops!

Last week was one of those weeks. Most people I know were having that kind of week. I saw it with people I know here in Maryland, friends in other cities, people on Twitter/Facebook…The week was just off! Maybe it was the full moon? Maybe it was just a weird alignment of the planets? Who knows! But it was a long, long, long (and did I mention long?) week! On Friday night it was high time to make a cocktail (or two!) ;oP

One of my all time favorite drinks is a Lemon Drop Martini. Most of the time when I make cocktails (which sadly isn’t often…The last time I made them was when I was at the beach a few years ago) I’ll either make Margaritas or Lemon Drops. Friday was a lemon drop sort of night!

This concoction is the perfect, quick, no fail drink that comes out fabulously time and time again. Sometimes that’s just what you need!

Cocktail Time! Let's Make Lemon Drops!

What You’ll Need:
The juice of six lemons
1 cup of lemon or citrus vodka
1 cup of simple syrup
2 cups of seltzer water
2 cups of ice
Organic cane sugar (optional to rim the glasses)

Cocktail Time! Let's Make Lemon Drops!

In a glass pitcher stir together lemon juice, vodka and simple syrup until well mixed. Add seltzer and stir until incorporated. Add ice.

Cocktail Time! Let's Make Lemon Drops!

Wet the rim of your glasses and dip into organic cane sugar (optional). Pour drinks into the glasses and serve.

Notes: Someone on Facebook suggested doing this with limes. I’m totally going to have to try that next time!

Better Bites: Two for One: Gazpacho Soup or Salad

Gazpacho Soup

As I mentioned before I’ll be contributing over at Allie’s Answers once a month or so. Today is the day! So stop over and say hello. It’s a great place to get a lot of green tips and ideas!

In the summer it is so easy to eat healthy, local, fresh produce! Some of us don’t have the luxury of being able to have fresh, local produce year round, so we really enjoy it when we do! But if you’re like me after the initial thrill of having a vine ripe tomato all by itself, or fresh cucumbers sliced for a snack, or any other variety of summer garden goody right from the garden/farmer’s market all by themselves has worn off you want to do something else with the natural bounty.

For years I’ve wanted to make some gazpacho, but I always get side tracked. (And in all honesty try…How is it possible that I had never had gazpacho before now?) Gazpacho is the perfect summer time treat! By taking a few simple ingredients and about 10 minutes you’ve got dinner in no time! It’s cool (which is fabulous on a hot summer day), it’s no cook so you don’t have to heat up your house to eat (also great on a hot summer day), there are no animal products or by products (making the dish vegan, for those of us trying to eat less meat and thus reduce our overall impact) and it’s a delicious, not to mention healthy, way to have a filling meal, without eating anything that is too heavy. Overall it’s a very earth friendly recipe and that is always a plus.

Another great thing about gazpacho is that it’s quite versatile. You can add in other vegetables that you like, throw in some herbs, or even add in some bread crumbs if you like. If you aren’t in the mood for soup you can eat the vegetable combination before it’s processed smooth as a salad. Also the proportions don’t have to be exactly the same each time. It’s a forgiving recipe that allows you to experiment each time. It’s quick, easy and delicious and sometimes in the summer that is just what you need!

Gazpacho: Ingredients

What You’ll Need:
6-8 tomatoes
4-6 small cucumbers, cut in half and sliced (Note: You want the pickling size. If you can’t find these you can use one large cucumber.)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a large red onion, sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of brown rice vinegar

Chop tomatoes and place in a large glass bowl:

Gazpacho: Tomatoes

Next chop cucumbers and add them in with the tomatoes:

Gazpacho: Tomatoes and Cucumbers

And then the green peppers:

Gazpacho: Vegetables and Green Peppers

Red onion:

Gazpacho: Vegetables and Red Onion

Garlic:

Gazpacho: Vegetables and Garlic

And last your black pepper, salt, oil and vinegar:

Gazpacho: Vegetables, Pepper, Salt, Oil and Vinegar

The really great thing about this is that everything can be roughly chopped. It doesn’t have to be uniform or perfect, just chop and go!

After everything is in the bowl you want to stir to mix everything together and let the oil and vinegar coat the vegetables:

Gazpacho Salad: You Can Stop Here or Proceed to Make Soup!

At this point you can do one of two things…You can stop right here and have Gazpacho Salad or you can proceed to the directions below to make soup.

Place vegetable mixture in your food processor or blender:

Gazpacho: Vegetables Ready to Process

Process until smooth and place in a serving dish:

Gazpacho Soup: Ready to Serve

Repeat this process until you have processed all of your vegetables into soup.

You can chill this soup or eat it immediately. It’s great topped with parsley or fresh herbs.

Makes 4-6 main course servings.

And look at this:

Gazpacho Soup

The color and texture is fabulous! Not to mention the taste! You get a zing from the onion, garlic and black pepper, coupled with a coolness from the other vegetables. It’s just the perfect combination!

Notes: If you want a chunkier soup then don’t process for as long. You could also add herbs in with the vegetables. Rosemary, thyme and/or oregano would be great or how about dill? These subtle changes can make it so you have something different, yet similar every time!

Cross posted at Allie’s Answers.

No Cook Blueberry Jam

No Cook Blueberry Jam

As I mentioned yesterday Alexis and I went to the orchard after our trip to the library to pick up some blueberries (and of course peas for Miss G)! I just love blueberry season! Blueberries are my favorite fruit, followed closely by watermelon and fresh pineapple. In fact if you do a search on Dianne’s Dishes for blueberries you’ll find Blueberry Muffins to Blueberry Ice Cream to Blueberry Cheesecake and everything in between!

I’m a big fan of blueberry jam. In fact I normally get mine from a local company called McCutcheons. I love their jams/jellies/preserves! And as an added bonus they have no high fructose corn syrup in them and use real sugar. That’s always a plus in my book. But I’ve been wanting to try to make some on my own for a while now.

This jam turned out just perfect! The lemon and blueberry go so well together, and it was just the right amount of sweet! It also goes together in no time and you don’t have to fuss with canning or anything either since it’s a fridge or freezer jam. In less than an hour you’ve got yourself some fabulous homemade jam!

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Blueberries

What You’ll Need:
4 pints of blueberries
2/3 cup of organic cane sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of one lemon
1 package of Ball Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin

Rinse berries and pick over them to ensure there are no stems. Mash berries well:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Mashed Blueberries

If there are a few blueberries that don’t get mashed that’s ok.

Add the zest and juice of one lemon:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Lemon Zest

Also add the organic cane sugar:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Organic Cane Sugar

Stir to mix well:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Mixed and Ready for Pectin

Add pectin 1 tablespoon at a time:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Pectin

And then stir until mixed in. Repeat this process until the pectin is completely gone and well mixed in to the blueberry mixture:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Ready for Jars

Stir for 3-4 minutes and then you’re ready to store. I like to use canning jars. Using a funnel ladle the mixture into the jar:

No Cook Blueberry Jam

Be sure not to fill the jars quite full, especially if you’re going to store this in the freezer:

No Cook Blueberry Jam

This will give you about 3 1/2 pints:

No Cook Blueberry Jam

The one that was going in the fridge I filled a little more full than those going into the freezer.

Let sit for 30 minutes and voila…Jam!

Store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or the freezer for 10-12 months.

No Cook Blueberry Jam

Notes: This method should work with other types of fruits and berries too. Next up I want to try peaches!

Pineapple Chicken Salad

Pineapple Chicken Salad

I love fruity chicken salads. It all goes back to when my Mom worked at a little video store downtown in the small town where I grew up. There was a theater up the street that had a little sandwich type shop that was open every afternoon and we often went there to grab a late lunch or a snack. One of their dishes was a chicken salad sandwich that had pineapple in the mix. I immediately fell in love!

This recipe takes me back to my childhood in so many ways. It is probably my first taste it then go and make it sort of dish. I’ve made variations of this many times over the years, and while I’ve liked them all, I have to admit this is probably my favorite take. I whipped up this batch to make finger sandwiches for Miss G’s birthday party. I thought I had gotten a shot of the actual sandwiches I made, but I missed that in the hustle and bustle of the day

This truly is a “use everything” kind of dish. You get the added benefit of having chicken stock/broth to use as well. And as you know I’m all about the versatile dish. I just love something that puts you half way to something else!

What You’ll Need:
2 small chickens
Sea salt
Black pepper
Bay leaves
Rosemary sprigs
Thyme sprigs
1 – 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
1 bunch of scallions (Note: I used red spring onions, but you can use whatever you can find.)
1/3 cup of light mayonnaise (Note: I like Hellmann’s.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/3 cup of pineapple juice

Place both chicken in a large pot and cover with water. (You’re basically cooking the chicken like you’re making chicken stock/broth.) Add a generous amount of sea salt (about a tablespoon), some black pepper (roughly another tablespoon), a few bay leaves, some rosemary, some thyme, etc.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 to an hour until chicken is done through. Remove chickens from stock/broth (they’ll probably fall apart) and set aside to cool. You can strain the broth and freeze or store in the fridge for later.

Once the chicken is cool remove skin and bones until all you have is a big bowl of chicken. Chop or grind into small bits. (Note: My mom brought me this really cool tool from Pampered Chef that I used to do this. I couldn’t find it on their website though and can’t remember what it was called to share with you, but basically it has a handle and the bottom of the tool kind of looks like a water wheel that is sharp. You could do this in a meat grinder or a food processor too.)

Once the chicken is chopped add remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Chill before serving.

Notes: You can eat this on bread as a sandwich, in a quarter tomato or on a bed of greens. It’s very versatile!

Better Bites: Zucchini and Squash

Zucchini and Squash

It’s that time of year, the time where you start having fresh vegetables either from your own garden, or at the Farmer’s Market or even your local markets. It is so easy to eat healthy and fresh during the summer!

One of my favorite side dishes during the summer, when squash and zucchini are in season, is a very simple dish that utilizes the naturally buttery taste of the squashes, paired with a sweet onion, that makes the perfect side dish or main course that tastes decadent, but is anything but.

I’ll say it again…Who says eating healthily has to be boring?

What You’ll Need:
3 zucchini, cut in half and then sliced
3 yellow squash, cut in half and then sliced
1 sweet or red onion, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Zucchini and Squash: Ready to Cook

In a large pot over medium heat add zucchini, squash, onion, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (Note: You don’t need more than a tablespoon or two of oil at most.) Stir ingredients to coat and cook over medium heat until squashes and onion are tender.

See how easy and quick that was? Quick, easy and delicious…Now that’s my kind of dish!

Notes: You can eat this as a side dish or you can serve it over rice as a main course.