Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Squash Recipe

I am going to call it foresight...I think Greg would use a different word altogether, but whatever it is...lets just say I had A LOT of it when I planted a teeny-tiny Italian yellow squash plant last spring...

That little guy has basically taken over my garden and in the process--yielded many MANY offspring--so much so that we are having a hard time keep up with the summer squash bounty.

But instead of being overwhelmed by the deluge, we are just eating A LOT of yellow squash--which is not such a terrible thing especially since there a loads of good recipes out there.

And the best recipe I found so far this summer is one for a light & healthy salad--
works well with zucchini too.

Its basically like a squash carpaccio.

Its pretty simple...
first, I make thyme-infused oil for the dressing 
by steeping a bunch of thyme in some olive oil on the stove. 

Heat oil until bubbles appear; add thyme...turn off heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Next, grab whatever zucchini or (in my case) yellow squash you have lying around
6-8 small squash total--baby squash is better; thinly sliced with either mandolin or veg peeler
(remove some outer skin and stop when you get to seeds--should have long wide swipes)
6 squash blossoms
about a cup of cherry tomatoes halved or small tomatoes sliced
about 1/3 cup, more or less, of fresh ricotta
1/4 fresh basil leaves or mint leave or combo of both, torn
one lemon, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Arrange squash strips on platter, top with squash blossoms, dollops of ricotta, tomatoes, herbs, s+p and
red pepper flakes...drizzle with thyme oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice...

So summery, fresh, healthy and satisfying...

Its kind of amazing, really--this bounty of summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Luca turns Five Years Old!

Luca just turned FIVE YEARS OLD and we had a 3 day extravaganza to celebrate!

 First, there were presents, cards, books and fun toys...
(ok, fun for him--slightly problematic for me and Greg; see below on left.)

Magda is reading a card to Luca on right...

Besides an awesome star wars watch, a lego set, an indoor basketball hoop, Luca got some beautiful books, a fun puzzle and an outdoor basket ball and a lovely water color painting--to just name a few...

And there was swimming...

And there was a home-made chocolate cake, which was pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

And that was just Saturday and Sunday!! 

On Monday, we invited the neighborhood kids to celebrate with us at the park with ice cream.

We scooped up 5 different flavors; cones or cups, 
and then the kids played 
while the adults sipped a lemon drop punch I made
 (for the grown ups only!)  

It was hot and buggy but we had a great time.

I have to say, the whole park party is such good idea!!  

I highly recommend utilizing your neighborhood park the next time you have a party to celebrate...
And, as an extra bonus, all the melted ice cream stays at the park--not on your floors!

The party set up.

Scoop fast! We recommend, 2--better yet: 3 adult cream melts fast!

A happy bunch!  And Luca had a great time...

Happy Birthday Luca!!

cannot believe our little baby is 5.

Monday, July 16, 2012

a Cucumber-Infused Cocktail

We went out to dinner a few nights ago and I ordered a cocktail with cucumber-infused vodka.

 It was love at first sip.  

Cucumber is a bit unexpected as a flavor but when done right, 
nothing is quite as refreshing.  

It tastes just like summer but not in the typical sweet way...
It has more of an herbaceous, crisp thing going on.

And I liked it so much, I infused my own vodka.

Which is not difficult to do--I sliced up 1/2 a cucumber; peeling and removing all seeds...
And added the thin cucumber slices to a bottle of vodka for 3 days. 

 (Remove all cucumber after 3rd day or vodka will taste bitter.)

Easy and tasty!

I can't quite seem to replicate the drink that I had--yet! but instead, I made 
Cucumber Mint cocktails...

which were just as good!

Mint, Cucumber and Vodka Cocktails
makes 2 
 adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cucumber-infused vodka
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
ice & club soda
spears of cucumber for garnish

Fill shaker with ice.  Add mint, sugar, lime juice and shake.  Add Cointreau and vodka
and shake again.  Strain 3/4 way into 2 glasses filled with ice.  Add club soda till top.
Stir, garnish with cucumber and enjoy.

Very summertime!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Indoor S'mores

Its Summer time, its hot and its time for s'mores. 

Except for the fact that there is this teensy, weensy heat wave that we are having...

So, instead of building a camp fire outside 
(which would prove that I was certifiably INSANE!)

The kids & I roasted marshmallows over the stove 
(which proves that I am just borderline off my rocker.)

But I had to make s'mores because
I had to make this recipe for homemade graham crackers I saw!!

I mean, how could I not??

Home. Made. Graham. Crackers.  


OK--this did require that I turn on the oven for 20 minutes...

Greg said I should turn on the heater while I was at it.
(Sometimes he can be so NOT funny.)

Homemade graham crackers, btw--are awesome.

Recipe for them live here.

The crackers themselves were flaky, rich, and flavored with cinnamon. 
They had a nice nutty taste from the toasted wheat germ, which I loved...

Perfect, actually, with a cup of coffee.

 Kids LOVED the grahams too and of course, the whole thing
but really, what's not to love:

marshmallow, chocolate and graham goodness.

Plus when it's already 106 degrees outside--
what's another couple degrees....

I'd turn the stove on again in heartbeat for a s'more!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Freak of Nature

derecho...that's what they call it.  A fast-moving, ass-kicking hurricane-like storm, that basically comes up--out of nowhere and covers a LOT of square mileage--FAST, leaving destruction--aka: downed trees and downed power lines, in its wake. They say they happen once every four years.  We had a date with one a couple nights ago...

Friday night about 10pm, Greg had just finished an episode of Breaking Bad (which I do not like!).  He was online checking the interwebs and I was in the living room.  Greg happened to check Washington Post's site and then came into the living room and told me to put on The Weather Channel.  There, we see, moving fast and furiously--FROM CHICAGO,  this massive storm system coming right for us.  

Basically we had 30 minutes to prepare ourselves for this huge lighting and thunder storm with 60 mph winds.  Power outages were imminent.  We rushed around getting battery operated lanterns, flashlights and our crank powered radio out of the basement.  We unplugged all the computers and electronics and then we braced ourselves.  And sure enough, 30 minutes later-on the DOT, the rain started. The lighting started...the thunder started.  And then the winds really kicked in.  The lights went off and then came back on.  We stood on the porch and marveled at what was going on around us.  The lights went off again and stayed off...There we were, in the middle of this whirlwind, totally stunned and surprise and not really knowing what to expect, but hoping for the best...

The storm lasted around us for a good hour; then moved on and was gone.  There was minor debris/small branches down on our street.  We wouldn't notice the much larger tree branch that had come down on our neighbor's car until the morning.  As far as we could tell, we came thru unscathed.

That was until Saturday morning. 

A record breaking heat wave was forecasted for a second day in a row on Saturday.  Temperatures were expected to be 102...which it seemed to be already at 8:30am.  And almost immediately, it was being reported that power outages could take up to A WEEK to repair.  We, with two little kids and two big dogs, didn't really want to stick around to see if they would be right.

Plus, everything was closed: the pool at the Y, the grocery stores, the gas stations.  The traffic lights were out, making driving not fun.  Not to mention water use was restricted because the storm had  knocked out electricity to the local water purification plant and we were told to ration water.  Not to mention a very sad farewell I said to everything in our fridge and freezer...

Very lucky for us, we were able to hightail it back to the beach house that Greg's parents own...and were able to pass the weekend in relative comfort...with access to the beach, the pool and air, so fortunate and we were incredible thankful to have someplace cool to go.

No creative post today...just a crazy story about a freak of nature...a Derecho!  Who knew?!!
Hope its a very long time before we encounter one again!

Check out this Washington Post photo gallery to see what this storm really did to our area.