Goodbye July

July was a great month at Spatoola.

It started out with my boyfriend and I moving in together. We love our new place. Here he is at Bed Bath and Beyond picking out a new bath towel for himself that, as he proclaims, is “soft as a baby lamb”.

It ended with a visit from my college friend Mel. We went to breakfast at one of my favorite’s, Glenn’s Diner. We split crab cakes eggs Benedict and fresh blueberry pancakes. Their crab cakes are to die for.

We spent our afternoon at the pool with our fellow Hawkeye alum, Katie:

Then we headed over to the world-famous Newberry Library’s book sale where they had over 120,000 books for sale.  It was super busy and we had to have Mel jump out of the car and go stand in a parking spot so we could park. We are serious about our books!

On our way from dinner on Saturday night we walked past a parked car that had this lovely stuffed animal on the hood.

Mel was so upset that we wouldn’t let her keep it, she had to console herself with a fishbowl that tasted like grape koolaid.

Goodbye July. Hello August.

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Fudgey banana popsicles

My mom sent me this recipe that she found on a website. Sounded tasty to me, so they are freezing right now.

Fudgy banana pudding pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate fudge, sugar-free, fat-free instant pudding
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 2 very ripe small to medium bananas
  • 1/3 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt

In a medium bowl, mix milk and pudding according to instructions.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas.

Mix yogurt in with bananas.

Alternately spoon pudding and banana mixture in to molds.

As a fun surprise I dipped one of the sticks in peanut butter. I can’t wait to see who gets that pop!

This recipe made 6 popsicles. Each pop is 2 Points Plus on Weight Watchers.

Curried lentils and cauliflower(vegan and gluten-free)

Brian and I love Indian food. Unfortunately, it uses a lot of spices that I don’t own, usually takes a long time to cook and is often unhealthy. I’ve been on a hunt for quick and healthy Indian dishes and stumbled upon this recipe at Frontier Co-op. Oh, and it’s vegan and gluten-free!

Curried lentils and cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 green onions, white and light green parts finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions:

Throughly rinse and drain lentils and pick out any stones.

Place lentils in a pot with 2 cups water and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft.

While lentils are cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and salt and cook until onion is soft.

Add garlic and curry powder. Stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add cauliflower, tomato sauce, 3/4 cup water and ginger. Stir well to combine. Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Place cooked lentils in bowl and place cauliflower on top with sauce.

Upon our first bites, Brian and I had mixed feeling about this dish. Once we added a little salt to the lentils, we couldn’t stop gobbling it up. The cauliflower has amazing flavor and I would consider cooking it like that just as a side dish. It makes a great inexpensive, healthy and filling meal.

One cup of cooked lentils and 1/3 of cooked cauliflower in sauce is 7 Points Plus on Weight Watchers.

Sangria popsicles

In honor of my college friend Mel coming into town tomorrow, I’ve made some adult popsicles.

I made them in silicone cupcake liners so they are smaller than a regular pop.

I diced up some nectarine.

Add sangria.

Freeze. Alcohol has a much lower freezing point that most things you make popsicles out of. Some home freezers don’t ever get that cold, but with high hopes, I made them well ahead of time for extra freezing time. If they don’t freeze, at least we will have some well chilled sangria!

Orange and fennel flounder fillets

These fillets are so flavorful and a great way to get fish without it tasting fishy. They are even simple and elegant enough to make for a dinner party.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine:

Ingredients:

  • 2 fennel bulbs(about one pound each), with fronds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 4oz flounder fillets

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450F. While the oven is heating, cut off the tops of the fennel bulbs. Chop fronds and set to the side for later. Cut fennel bulbs in to 8 wedges each. Toss with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Spread the fennel in an even layer and roast for 25 minutes. Stir the fennel and roast 15 minutes longer.

While fennel is roasting, combine the orange juice, zest, fennel seeds and remainder of salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag. Combine. Add in fillets and let marinate for about 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and top the fennel with the flounder and its marinade. Roast until the flounder is just done; about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped fennel fronds over the flounder and serve.

4 oz of flounder and 1/4 of roasted fennel is 7 weight watchers points plus.

Pots and plants

A few Home Depots runs were made when we moved. I went to get a few things and ended up coming home with four more plants. A cherry tomato, a patio tomato, red bell pepper and an eggplant.

Yes, I am now up to 4 different types of tomato plants and Brian doesn’t even eat tomatoes!

Here’s the storm brewing overhead as I went out to take pictures:

Look at the start of my first little eggplant!

My poor basil nearly drowned in the storm the other day. There was over an inch of water sitting on the top of the dirt when I got to it, but it’s still growing.

Remember big beef and the windowsill gang? They have grown into quite the jungle but have yet to produce a blossom or fruit. I want some heirloom tomatoes!

I have some blossoms on my red pepper plant.

 A few small green cherry tomatoes and green patio tomatoes have formed, but aren’t ripe, yet. I can’t wait for a bountiful harvest and lots of caprese salad.

Creamy coconut-banana popsicles

You thought I was done with the popsicle posts, huh? Well, I’m not. I whipped these up last night and when we finish eating them I’ll be on to making chocolate fudge banana pops and then strawberry cheesecake pops.

The best thing about DIY popsicles is that I can make them so they are a guilt-free treat.

Mix box of coconut cream pudding according to instructions(I used skim instead of 2% milk and they turned out plenty creamy).

Cut banana into small pieces, stir into coconut pudding mixture.

Spoon into molds. As an extra special surprise in two of them, I added a total of 10 chocolate chips to the pop while I was spooning it in.

I still had filling left after filling my 4 molds. The other two molds in the set were still full of blueberries and cream popsicles waiting to be eaten. So, I pulled a small ice tray out and made a bunch of mini’s to eat later.

These pops are awesome and taste like coconut cream pie. The ones without chocolate chips are only 2 points plus on weight watchers and the pop’s with the chocolate chips are 3 points plus each. Now, that’s a dessert I can live with!

Other happenings in the kitchen

I don’t blog about everything I make…most of the time because I’ve made it before. It would be impossible never to repeat a recipe and quite frankly, I like some of them so much that I do want to make them again. Here are photos of remakes and other delicious things I’ve had or made:

Crustless quiche. This time with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and mushrooms:

I was out the other day and asked if they had iced tea and this was one of the options they brought me. It’s amazingly delicious. If you have a chance to try it, don’t hold back, just do it.

I made another batch of rhubarb bread and added apple to it this time. Extra moist and delicious.

I made some homemade pasta sauce:

Homemade strawberry ice cream:

And a drink that I’ve been hooked on all summer is flavored La Croix sparkling water. I am in L-O-V-E with the coconut that came out in June, but it is impossible to fine. I’ve gotten one case all summer. This is the lime with some sliced strawberry in it. So refreshing.

Sweet and sassy chili pork chops

I never really know what to do with pork chops. I was tired of eating chicken and ground turkey, so I bought some at the grocery store the other day. They sat in the refrigerator for a few days, while I figured out what to do with them. After doing lots of food blog reading and some internet searching, I found a recipe for Sweet and sassy chili pork chops over at The Pioneer Woman.

Unfortunately, I deleted all but one picture of them in the making. Fortunately, they will still turn out to be very delicious even if you don’t have any pictures of them.

Adapted from above linked recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1 1/2 pounds of bone in pork chops
  • 1 12oz can of Coke
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce(I used a garlic and chili sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice(about one orange)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients except pork chops in a large Ziploc bag until well combined. Add pork chops, turn to cover in marinade. Place sealed Ziploc in refrigerator and let marinate 4 to 24 hours. After marinating, heat skillet to high and place pork chops with bone to the center of the pan, discarding remainder of marinade. This is the thickest part of chop, therefore should go over the area of pan with the highest heat. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness of pork chop.

These pork chops have the perfect combination of flavors. Easy to make for a dinner party. Highly recommended.

 

Blueberries and cream popsicles

After eating all the other popsicles, I couldn’t resist making more.

Rinse 2/3 pint of blueberries.

 

Add 1/4 cup half and half and 1/4 cup water.

 

Add 1 tsp splenda or equivalent amounts or sweetener of choice.

Add 2/3 cup greek yogurt and 3/4 tsp vanilla extract.

 

Muddle together.

Pour or spoon into popsicle molds. Freeze.

Enjoy.