Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Neighbor Salsa

Hello all! We are back home and ready to finish out the summer!

Miles and I had a wonderful little get away together to Oregon so he could perform the wedding of a very special person! She was one of our former youth long ago when we still lived in the bless-ed Pacific Northwest!! That place is just in my bones. I do so love me an evergreen tree, the mountains and snow covered volcanoes, no humidity, and no mosquitoes biting the tar out of me as we dined in the evening sun of the backyard for the rehearsal dinner. We got to spend time with dear old friends, even the ones responsible for setting me and Miles up, and had so much fun with all the wedding festivities and just being alone together! We really need to do things like this more often so we can remember just how much we like each other!

A few wedding pics before we dive into a recipe.............

The Bride and Groom

The weather could not have been better and do you see those mountains in the background??? I love them!

The love of my life! I love going to weddings. It reminds me of how blessed I am to truly be married to my best friend. Plus this time since he was the one performing the wedding, I was also reminded of what an incredible, God-honoring, catch of a man he is as he spoke about the importance of a high biblical view of marriage!

I love the excitement on Melanie's face! Both the bride and groom made it such a fun wedding with their expressions of pure joy at finally being husband and wife!

Okay I will stop babbling now and move on to some food!

So here is the story with the salsa. Miles left Tuesday to take the kids to his parents house. He came back Wednesday morning and we left as soon as I got home from working for the Cities to spend the day and night before we flew out. So I came home Tuesday evening from running last minute errands to find this on my deck...........

Six of the best, fresh from the garden, perfectly ripe tomatoes! Two thoughts went through my mind. First, I have the best neighbors!!! Second, oh crud! These will be bad by the time we get back and double crud because that means I have to make salsa tonight and I don't really have time!

But I couldn't let those awesome tomatoes go to waste and I didn't want to give them to anyone else because I was feeling selfish and because I didn't have time to deliver them to someone else. So salsa it was! I had a few peppers left from the Farmer's Market that needed to be used up anyway. This all needed to happen very fast that I am really surprised I even took pictures.

I very roughly diced those peppers up and left the rest to the food processor.

In the food processor I had already dumped my chopped up tomatoes, juice of one lime, cilantro, red onion, garlic, salt, cumin, Stevia, and can of diced chiles.

I was a bit worried that my peppers weren't going to fit in there. I was pretty close to the maximum fill line. But I had no time to figure something else out.

So I dumped the peppers right on top and pushed everything down a bit. I knew it would reduce really quickly.

I pulsed it probably 10 generous pulses or so and it looked like this.

Then I added one can of tomato paste to thicken it up a bit and to help take the edge off the spicy peppers. Miles likes it spicy but I like it mild so I need to try to find a happy medium for things like this.

I like my salsa very fine like this. I will eat it plenty of other ways but this is my favorite. Plus it is great like this to mix in to your guacamole or in your eggs. If you like yours a little more chunky then just pulse it less. I also like it spread on top of a salad for a wonderful dressing. Mmmmm....that might be lunch today!

I put a little in this bowl to eat for my dinner that night and then put the rest in the freezer so it didn't go bad while we were away. I do have to say though that it tasted so much better by the time we got home and the spiciness had really settled down! So you might want to plan on making this a day or two before you actually need it.

So do I have to tell you that I didn't measure anything? You know how I hate to measure and when in an extreme hurry measuring, even for the blog, just doesn't happen. So the following recipe is my best guess. Taste it when you are done and add whatever you feel is lacking. If you don't have some spicy little peppers like I had from the Farmer's Market you might want to add a little cayenne or chili powder.

Thank you to my good neighbors who share! We have the best neighbors a person could ask for. As much as I love the Northwest and would love to be back there someday, it would be hard to leave our awesome neighbors. I know it pains some of you to hear me say that since you would love it if we were moving back tomorrow!

In the mean time, enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

Good Neighbor Salsa
5-6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 - 1 red pepper, roughly diced
1/2 - 1 green pepper, roughly diced
2-4 small other peppers diced such as Anaheim, Banana, Jalapeno, Poblano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup cilantro
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. Stevia or sugar
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1 small can tomato paste

Place all ingredients in food processor except tomato paste. Pulse 10 times or until desired consistency is reached. Add tomato paste and pulse until mixed well. Allow salsa to sit for at least an hour for flavors to develop. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for several days.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Things I'm Loving Lately

Summer time. I do love summer time. I remarked to someone at church yesterday last Sunday (It has taken me that long to finish this post) that I hate the end of summer when I have to start thinking about sending my kids back to school. I love them being home with me and I love lazy mornings when they can sleep until 9:30 if they want. I love how much they play together because they have no one else really. My kids get along very well especially for being opposite sex and 6 years apart in age.

They spent hours one afternoon outside in this blow up pool they are both too big for making their own fun. (Please ignore the dead grass and unstained swing set. It finally rained enough to green the grass up the other day and the swing set is on the to do list.)

Summertime also means grilled veggies! This is my favorite way to eat them. I pour a little olive oil and balsamic over them with a little garlic and herb seasoning in a bowl first and let them sit for a half hour or so then toss them into our grill basket.

We have also grilled zucchini a few times. This is my favorite way to eat zucchini for sure. I love the flavor the grill adds. If I have a really large one I cut it into rounds but the smaller ones are good cut like this.
Fresh blueberries!

I purchased this sea of fresh blueberries from a local farmer who has them shipped fresh from Michigan. I wash and freeze them like this then put them in Ziploc bags to enjoy for most of the year. Frozen blueberries are a special treat. Faith loves them for a snack and I love that they are super healthy for her. We also love to freeze grapes in a Ziploc too for an excellent summer snack!

Remember my addiction to spices. My cabinet used to look like this. It was making me literally crazy! I couldn't get anything out of here without knocking 14 things down and all over the counter thereby making me want to say bad words. Plus I would end up buying duplicates of things I thought I had run out of. It is possible there were three bottles of cumin in there.

It now looks like this! I actually did this some time ago and have been meaning to work it into a blog post but haven't gotten around to it. I was reminded of how much I love it when I looked at the above picture.

The drawers pull down and you can actually fit quite a lot of spices in there. I need to get a second one for the top shelf of spices. I found it at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20 but it may have been an As Seen on TV item so check those sections in stores. It also came with labels for the outside, but I chose not to use them in case I want to move things around. It only took me a few times to remember where I had put each spice.

Homemade Popsicles!!!! I was tired of the very cheap molds that don't actually let you get your Popsicle out so when I saw these molds at TJ Maxx for around $7.00 I grabbed them. Still cheap but much more durable.

I love that I am in complete control of the ingredients and sugar content and that they stand up like this making them so easy to fill. These were a mango pineapple coconut and the purple one above was simply a lite V8 Fusion juice. Ha Ha! The kids had a vegetable serving in their Popsicle and didn't even know it!

The only bummer is the length of time it takes for them to freeze but the same is true for all other molds as well. I would like to have that instant freeze Popsicle machine! They come out of the molds quite easily if you wait the actual amount of time you are supposed to for them to freeze. Just run them under hot water for a few seconds and they will pop right out.

If you want a snack that will freeze more quickly then try these yogurt drops! I used a low sugar blueberry yogurt and piped the circles onto waxed paper on a try. I topped them with a frozen blueberry and stuck them in the freezer. You can use an actual piping bag or put the yogurt in a Ziploc bag and snip the end off to make uniform size circles. After they are frozen you can put them in freezer safe Tupperware.

They will turn a bit darker but they make a great healthy grab and go snack that you can feel good about eating yourself or giving to your kids. With a little plain Greek yogurt the sky is the limit for all that you can mix in and top it with.

Food like this! Summer just makes me crave good healthy vegetables like this.
How about you?

The Farmer's Market. Funny I am not showing you pictures of the vegetables or the basil plant I have bought at the Farmer's Market but this raw honey! It is to die for! I mean it! It has to be the best tasting honey I have ever eaten. I will hoard it!

Summer time breakfast. For some reason this has been my favorite breakfast lately. I don't care what you say about eating celery for breakfast. Topped with Sunbutter it is awesome. Plus one egg over easy and my can of V8 makes for a protein filled nutritious breakfast. Try the spicy V8 if you don't usually care for the regular.
That is the only way that Miles will drink V8.
He is a big baby!

Grilled Very Greek Chicken. So I know everyone is sick of my love affair with Greek food but even if you don't care for Greek you will love this simple marinade for some grilled chicken. You don't even have to call it Greek. Visit the link below.
Just a few simple ingredients.
 Olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, Greek seasoning,
poultry seasoning, oregano, and black pepper.

My new iPhone. My husband is a technology loving freak. The minute his cell phone contract is up he is there exchanging his phone for the next latest and greatest. He can't  wait. I on the other hand was perfectly happy with my non smart phone, or as my 12 year old likes to call it, "My dumb phone." My contract has probably been up for 3 years and it has been driving Miles crazy. So he talked me into an iPhone and since we will be adding Evan soon we also switched carriers to be more affordable. That meant I got my phone for $50. I will admit that I am totally in love. It really has come in handy over the last couple weeks. Plus I found two new apps I am crazy about.

This first one is called Shop Well. It let me enter nutrition information that I am looking for/to avoid. For example I am looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors, etc. and looking for whole grains, iron, folic acid etc. Then I can scan the bar code of any item at the store and it will give me nutrition information of the item and a score with a red, yellow, or green, circle telling me how good it is for me. It also gives me suggestions of better things to try.

For example I scanned my Hormel all natural, no preservatives lunch meat and it didn't like it so much. It didn't get a terrible score but it wasn't a green circle either. It suggested I try this roast beef.

When I click the nutrition tab it pulls this up and will high light in yellow the bad things and in green the good things. I had told the app I was looking for low saturated fat so it was happy about this.

Then I can click the ingredient list and see exactly what is in the item. In this case just 4 ingredients which makes me happy! Nothing is green but nothing is yellow either so that is why it didn't get an even higher score. I didn't exactly tell it I was looking for beef!

It also lets me add those items it has suggested to my shopping list. This way I can remember to look for them when I am at the store the next time. I scanned my favorite Fiber One cereal which got a score of 80. That was pretty good but I decided to add Uncle Sams and Grape Nuts to my list since they got perfect scores. I have learned that it isn't happy with any artificial sweeteners including Stevia or maple syrup and it only likes it if an item says 100 percent whole wheat flour. So I still check the ingredient list if something I like didn't get such a great score. I am okay with Stevia and wheat bran.

It also lets me browse an incredible data base looking for items with good scores.

And it lets me search for specific items I am wondering about. It has been super fun to scan items I have at home already and see what it tells me about them. I love that I can save them in a list otherwise I would completely forget what I had found because my brain is just getting old. Which is why I needed this second app.
My grocery store list.

So what I love is that I always have my list with me instead of forgetting to get it off the fridge and trying to remember what was on it! I also love that I can categorize my list so I am not back tracking in the store because I forgot something. I started with the free app to make sure I would like it but quickly upgraded. It was worth the $2.99 I spent on it because I needed more categories.

Like Toiletries and Condiments for example. I know I spelled toothpaste wrong on the list. No worries. I know what I meant.

When I have retrieved an item I put a little check mark in the box. This makes me so happy! I hate grocery shopping, but I love checking things off a list. I have occasionally added something to a list that I have already completed just so I could cross it off. Ridiculous? True. But that is how my brain works.

Every so often in the store I hit that little trash can you see underneath where it says cancel and I tap the Clear done items tab. This shortens my list and makes me feel good and it is just easier to see what is left. I also love that if I don't find an item, the store is out, or I know I have to go to another store for it, the item stays on my list! I can't tell you how many times I would get all but one or two things on my list and then forget to come home and write them on a new list. Annoying!

And one final thing I am loving lately......

My new chevron yellow and white curtains I made for the kitchen. Sewing is not really my forte, but I attempt it when I must to save a buck or to get what I really want. I am super glad that I also took time to line these which I wouldn't normally do because I am too impatient and I just want it done as fast as possible. It might be true that sewing always makes me end up wanting to say bad words.

But when I can close out the blinding sun every morning I am super happy. What I am not happy about is how much worse they made my nasty 1977 kitchen cupboards look. When I figure out how to plant and grow that money tree those will be going away as well or when I win the $5000 a week for life from Publisher's Clearing House. It's mine so you can all just stop entering!

So that is all for now! What have you all been enjoying this summer? Have you discovered any iPhone apps I should know about? Or better yet have you mixed up any homemade Popsicles that I need the recipe for???

Enjoy what is left of your summer. I know I will treasure every moment!