please leave your comments, criticisms, recipe ratings & requests or input for future posts! comment or email me at with any of the above.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

summer cooking

the faces of summer

i love summer - swimming, parades, the way cold treats taste so good on a hot day, all of the fun free stuff to do, watermelon for 12c/lb, peaches for 33c/lb... (i'm the bovine - i just had to throw those in there)

that being said, there are some things i don't love about summer. putting my babies in a 140 degree car, for example. and honestly, cooking. sometimes it is hard to get myself cooking motivated when it is 117 degrees outside - yes, i said 117. i've been trying to think of ways to cool off your kitchen in the summer (less oven, less stovetop) and here are some ideas i've come up with:
  • crockpot - my crockpot doesn't make me feel like i'm baking in my own house, so i'm trying to use that a little bit more.
  • barbeque - use more recipes where you can bbq your meat instead of use the oven or the stove top. keep the heat where it belongs - outside!
  • prepare ahead - freeze stuff. i bought 6 whole chickens for 67c/lb a few months ago, boiled them all, shredded them and then froze them in quart-sized freezer bags (2 cups of chicken in each bag). enchiladas? salads? sandwiches? you name it and i can grab a bag of this out of the fridge and never have to turn my stove on to cook the meat. i also froze 12 lbs of straberries last month (got them for 75c/lb, thank you very much), which brings me to my next point.
  • make smoothies - they cool you off, fill you up and they are a great way to get your fruits and veggies for the day. yes - your veggies. green smoothies only at our house. i make a really big smoothie almost every day that fills 2 whole glasses with about 5 strawberries, 4 chunks of pineapple, a banana ice and water. some days i throw in a pear. i made one the other day with a peach, a handful of blueberries, a banana, ice and a dash of soy milk that was amazing. add a teaspoon of sugar if it's a bit tart for you. and never forget your veggies - spinach and kale are my favorite greens to add. if you're looking for something a little more on the dessert side try my avocado shake (below) if you haven't already. it's to die for.
so if i'm trying to avoid my oven and stove top as often as possible, what am i eating?
  • sandwiches - i actually don't eat lunch meat so i'm talking chicken salad type sandwiches. try this one (chipotle chicken salad). it's yummy!! any meat you can do in the crock pot is great too. like french dips. i'll post a bbq pork sandwich some time soon as well that is out of this world good.
  • pasta salad - i'll post a good one soon.
  • salads - refreshing. the best hot weather food.
  • anything off my grill - grill chicken and put it in corn tortillas for some awesome chicken tacos. one of my all time favorite meals.
  • smoothies, smoothies and more smoothies.
  • u-swirl and yogurtland - this is what i wish i was eating every day. darn budget. have you tried either of these? holy cow. so good. and 30 or less calories an ounce. love it.
what do you love to eat/cook when it's hot? please share!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

happy 4th of july - wave your flag cheesecake!

happy 4th of july. i majored in early american history in college, so this time of year gives me warm fuzzies. hope it does you, too!

worst. picture. ever. i know.

celebrate with this delicious and festive dessert... and you're much better off eating this than lots of other things you could be eating this weekend!

and yes, i realize this is the worse. picture. ever. ever. ever. yikes. in my defense i was participating in the annual traditions of sit in the sun for 3 hours and watch the parade and then spend the rest of the day in and out of the water. lovely. the cheesecake looks delicious, though, right?

wave your flag cheesecake
modified from

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1-1/2 cups boiling water
2 packages (3 oz. each) strawberry flavor jello
ice cubes
1 cup cold water
1 boxed yellow cake mix, baked according to directions accept use applesauce for oil and sliced into strips
1-1/3 cups blueberries (or blackberries), divided
2 packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) fat free cool whip (or the store brand!)

slice 1 cup strawberries; halve remaining strawberries. set aside. add boiling water to gelatin mixes in large bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. add ice to cold water to measure 2 cups. add to gelatin; stir until ice is completely melted. refrigerate 5 min. or until slightly thickened.

meanwhile, line bottom of 13x9-inch dish with cake. add sliced strawberries and 1 cup blueberries to thickened gelatin; stir gently. spoon over cake. refrigerate 4 hours or until gelatin is firm.

beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with whisk until well blended. stir in cool whip; spread over gelatin. arrange strawberry halves on cream cheese mixture to resemble stripes of flag. add remaining blueberries for stars.



by the way, i've been brunette for 3 1/2 years now, but as of next week, the blonde is back in town. i'll post pictures.

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!