Friday, May 16, 2008

Time For A Blogging Break

Things have been a bit hectic around here this week. All of the tomatoes have been harvested, in fact pretty much everything has been harvested except all of the herbs and hot peppers. They love the heat! So it has been a busy week with the garden. Our son Chris is packing up and getting ready to head to Maine next week, as he is going to be the chef at an artist retreat! This whole deal sounds wonderful to me and I wish I was one of the artists! Chris has been occupying our VERY small kitchen the past few weeks working on new meals so I have not had the opportunity to cook like I usually do. I am not complaining, as we are the lucky recipients of these great tasty new dishes he is creating! So, needless to say, things are busy around here. Therefore I have decided to take a blog break. I need to regroup and will be back in a couple of weeks with some more cookbook reviews, much neglected wine reviews, and some new dishes for your summer picnics!

Cheers to all and I will see you in a couple of weeks!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Serious" In The Garden

It is another Monday, another beginning. At the REAL beginning of the day, like before the sun shines it's beautiful warm rays down upon us, this gem shines down on us.

This graceful bloom belongs to the "Night-Blooming Cereus" cactus. But to catch it's smiling face, you must be up at the break of dawn. This charming cactus resides at the edge of our property in the back where on warm summer nights it dances!

Another gem that shines is among our blogging community! I want to thank Gloria over at Canela's Kitchen for giving me this award! Visit Gloria's site and you surely can feel the love that she shares with all of us! "Thank You Gloria"!!!!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Key West Garden Prize Winner ?

What is smaller than an M&M ?

How about the latest ripe tomato in the garden! I must say, it takes ALOT to make a salad!

Have a great weekend! Get out there and plant something in your garden!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Super Supper Sides!

A few weeks ago Peter at Kalofagas-Greek Food And Beyond decided to do a few posts on side dishes since lately he seemed to be concentrating mostly on main dishes. Good idea Peter since BBQ and picnic season is upon us! Even Marie at Proud Italian Cook jumped on the bandwagon with her suggestions for a few sides. Hop on over and check on these super sides! Too yumptious guys!!!

As you can see, Mike fired up the smoker again this weekend and smoked a beef brisket that was tender and mouthwatering. He even threw a couple of our cayenne peppers on to smoke! So, I thought I would share with you the side dishes that worked well with our smoked beef brisket and would be great at any outdoor BBQ or picnic!

The first tasty side is Succotash Salad With A Creamy Basil Dressing

½ lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup of frozen baby lima beans
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen yellow corn thawed or you could use fresh corn, say about 2 large ears
½ cup chopped green onions
1 chopped seeded cayenne pepper
For the dressing:
¾ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
½ cup plain Greek nonfat yogurt
¼ cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Bring a large pan of water to a boil and add the lima beans. Cook them for about 2 minutes then add the green beans and cook about 4 minutes longer. Drain and rinse under cold water, drain well. Transfer these to a large bowl and add the corn, beans, onions and cayenne pepper.
Puree your basil, yogurt, mayo and vinegar in a blender. Add this dressing to your bean mixture and toss well. Salt and pepper to taste.
This is so easy and flavorful. I make mine a little ahead of time so the flavors can really get a hold of each other!

Next up is a Summer Black Bean Pasta Salad

¾ cup uncooked elbow pasta – cook this, drain and rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.
1-1/2 cups of halved grape tomatoes
1 cup peeled and diced avocado
1 cayenne pepper chopped
½ cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 heaping tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1 15 oz. can of black beans rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons of lime zest
2-1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon of bottled minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl add your tomatoes, avocado, pepper, cucumber, onion, cilantro, beans and pasta, toss.
Combine your lime zest, juice, vinegar, garlic and oil in a bowl and mix well with a whisk. Add this dressing to your veggie bowl, toss well.
I let this one set also and WOW, those flavors are a real picnic in your mouth!

Last, but definitely not least, have on hand for a real treat, fresh cherry tomatoes from your own garden!!!! What a harvest those have been this year for me and, of course, they all come ripe at the same time! But, these little gems are just wonderful to snack on while you are firing up the grill!

Hope everyone is enjoying Spring !!!!