Month: July 2015

Peach-Avocado Salad with Basil

Peach-Avocado Salad with Basil

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My larder at any time of the year includes a good number of fruits and vegetables in a basket or on the counter to the right of my range. (As one cooking friend admits, “I’ll forget about them if they’re not out there in plain sight.”)  An embarrassment of riches sometimes produces a meal I hadn’t expected or thought of before –especially in the summer — and that’s exactly how we ended up with this eye-candy salad. My original thought was a sort of bastard caprese as I had beaucoup fresh mozzarella as well as a big bag of avocados and a box of ripe peaches.  I’m a rich girl.  But somehow in the making of the dish — I was racing Dave, who was grilling meat — I just forgot the cheese.  Add it if you have some or covet protein or calcium.  I’m sure it would be great, but this is a stunning plateful without any additions. While I’m a committed carnivore, the meat was nearly superfluous.  Try this:

PEACH-AVOCADO SALAD WITH BASIL

makes 2 generous servings

If you’d rather have this for dessert, try a drizzle of local honey in place of the olive oil. 

  •  2 handfuls of fresh greens–I used spinach
  • 1 large ripe peach (Of course I prefer Colorado western slope peaches!), pitted and sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh grapes

Line a small serving platter or dinner plate with the greens and alternate all of the slices of peach and avocado.  Add a leaf of fresh basil every other pairing or so.  Drizzle with orange juice and olive oil; sprinkle with pepper.  Garnish with grapes. Serve immediately.

IMG_7809Sing a new song,

Alyce

Blueberry-Strawberry Pie with Lattice-Crust for Mike’s Birthday

Blueberry-Strawberry Pie with Lattice-Crust for Mike’s Birthday

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There’s this odd baker’s conundrum every summer and it’s all about having the best fruit of year on the days when it’s really too hot to bake.  Even with air conditioning.  I usually get up really early –you’ll know this if you’re a regular reader– and get it done before light comes over the eastern plains horizon.

Continue reading “Blueberry-Strawberry Pie with Lattice-Crust for Mike’s Birthday”

BBQ Pork Chop Salad

BBQ Pork Chop Salad

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Our rainy Colorado summer continues. Each day, not all day long, but typically in the afternoon or evening, we’re nearly overwhelmed by lightning storms and great, heavy rains we are unaccustomed to. Most years, a desperately needed now and then drizzle qualifies as a Colorado summer rain.  Instead of that sweet pitty-pat every couple of weeks, there are regular and torrential downpours creating gullies and near-ditches where none have gone before. Streets are closed due to flooding; cars are stuck in rising water.  Potted plants float and are emptied repeatedly and still rot.  My two precious pots of rosemary (brought in over the winter and taken outdoors in the late spring) don’t know how to act; one has nearly expired.

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While Rosie, our labradoodle puppy, has no trouble with the rumbling, grumbling, crashing, thunder or the moaning or beating rain, Tucker is a wreck–a new behavior for him.  I can barely console him and often find 75 pounds of golden retriever in my lap. I know; he needs a thunder blanket. Sometimes I’ll “kennel” them together. We don’t use a real kennel but have our mudroom baby-gated and that seems to comfort him. Poor puppy.

One of the gorgeous things about near-mountain life (we live in the Front Range of the Rocky mountains up on the mesa on the west side of Colorado Springs), is the plethora of rainbows. We have many each year even with just a little rain; this year, we have bookoo displays weekly.  The above beauty –they’re so hard to photograph– was snapped just off Highway 24 up near Cascade by my husband Dave while I was a church board meeting. Faithful Christian folk call rainbows, “God’s promise.” (Think Noah.) I can never help but think it.  Right after I think about the pot of gold, that is. (Think Fred Astaire in “Finnian’s Rainbow.”) Continue reading “BBQ Pork Chop Salad”

Mini Cheesecakes with Berries–1 Minute in the Microwave!

Mini Cheesecakes with Berries–1 Minute in the Microwave!

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{printable recipe}

If you’ve looked at the dessert section in my cookbook, you’ll know I’m really fond of very fast and simple sweets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake; I’m my mother’s daughter.  But there’s something fine and easy about a really good tiny after-dinner something or other that doesn’t take a couple of hours to concoct.  To say nothing of being able to pawn off the dessert “chore” to children or the beauty of keeping the heat out of the kitchen on warm days.  Peach pie always sounds so wonderful until the peaches are ripe, filling the bushel basket in the mudroom with dripping goodness, and it’s 90-frigging degrees outside.  Who’s turning on that oven?  Not me.  Heat is not Alyce’s friend. On the other hand, I have a hub who adores a dessert and I like to make this guy happy.  I make a big cheesecake for him every third of July at 0’dark early for his birthday and he doles it out for himself a bit at a time to make it last a long week or more. I have one small piece and that’s about it.

IMG_6084 But what about the rest of the time? The days when there isn’t a three-hour time frame for mixing,  baking, and cooling?  Or for folks who are never going to make that big cake no matter what? Or for sweet addicts who really would eat the whole cake if there weren’t individual portions? Enter these tiny bites of fruit-topped goodness that are done before you can say, “What’s for dessert?” Mixed very quickly with a hand-held or standing electric mixer or food processor (my preference), the cakes come together easily, cook for a minute in the microwave, and cool in just a few minutes as they’re so small.  Who doesn’t like individual desserts?  Easy to serve or transport; there’s no cutting or plates. It’s just you and your fork or spoon. Try this: Continue reading “Mini Cheesecakes with Berries–1 Minute in the Microwave!”

Grilled Tuna and Pickled Onions on Bacon Pintos with Grilled Salad

Grilled Tuna and Pickled Onions on Bacon Pintos with Grilled Salad

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Coming off the 4th of July weekend and a little too much potato salad, I was anxious to get back to a healthier meal.  (Small admission to regular readers here: I’ve been dieting seriously since mid-April. Even on the cruise.  I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost, but I’m down a size and more. I mostly kept to South Beach Phase II, and I didn’t give up wine. When I’m down another size, I’ll reevaluate. Ok, so much for truth in blogging.) So then: Costco had ahi tuna on sale and while I’m careful about what kind of seafood I buy, I’m occasionally caught up in the need for a piece of fish just like most people.  (Click here for an informative NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article about fishing and buying tuna.)

I also had a taste for pinto beans–kept seeing that bag in the cupboard– and it was 60 degrees and wet outside.  Love Colorado weather. Honest.  Just when you think it’s too hot or too dry or too sunny, the weather spins and flips ahead to early fall.

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Typically, though, I’m not interested in long-cooking pots of goodness come July, so this was a welcome exception.  It seemed to me the tuna, if I grilled it, would be a good contrast for the beans with bacon. Tuna isn’t totally bland, but it needs a bit of a foil–a spicy vinaigrette is one of my usual suspects.  This time pickled red onions came to mind, too, and while I quick-pickle cucumbers all year long, I rarely pickle onions. I used a big measuring cup for apple cider vinegar, some spices, and a sliced red onion. I then let it sit for less than an hour.  I wish I’d left it longer and cut them thinner. These onions were wonderful, but could have benefited from a longer bath in the vinegar. They’re great now that the leftovers have sat in the fridge overnight and they’ll keep a week or so if they last that long.

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Tucker had gone to the office with Dave, so Miss Bo-Bo (aka Rosie) stayed home and kept me company as I cooked. While there are easier meals, this one ranks right up there for simplicity. It may take a while because dry beans aren’t instant, but you could do them the day ahead–especially if you want this for a company meal for four.  For two, the leftover beans will feed you lunch with a hunk of corn bread or are perfect for a next night veggie burrito.  I think the tuna’s worth the time spent cooking the beans, of course! Continue reading “Grilled Tuna and Pickled Onions on Bacon Pintos with Grilled Salad”