Tomato Cucumber Salad with Feta

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If you like tart and tangy, savory and salty flavors, then this is a salad you may want to try! I decided to make this when my friend Greg gave me some cucumbers from his garden. You can’t go wrong combining cucumbers with tomatoes, but when you add in some feta cheese and Kalamata olives, that really gives this salad a special zing! The “dressing” in this salad is very simple…just some lemon juice and olive oil. So there are lots of healthy ingredients in this. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can chop up larger tomatoes into chunks and that should work fine. If you have a garden, it’s a great way to use all those cucumbers and tomatoes you’re growing this summer!

TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD WITH FETA by NancyC

Makes about 5 servings

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 small to medium cucumbers, diced into 1/2″ chunks (about 2 cups diced)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (slice both the white onion part and green stems)
  • 1 cup pitted and sliced or halved Kalamata olives
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

In large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the thyme, salt, pepper, and feta cheese.

Add in the cucumber, green onions, and olives; toss with the tomato/feta cheese mixture, tossing everything together well (you can let this mixture sit at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving). Just before serving, add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss everything together well. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

I love using fresh veggies from the garden or farmer’s market in summer recipes! Are you growing any veggies this summer?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday/Create with Joy, Show and Share/Coastal Charm.

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Blueberry-Honeydew Smoothie

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It’s really been warm lately, so I’ve been making lots of smoothies–they just taste so good on a hot day! One fruit that I really love but haven’t used that much in smoothies is honeydew melon. They’ve always been a little challenging … Continue reading

Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie

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I saw this smoothie at Food.com not long ago and was kind of intrigued by the blueberry/green tea combination, wondering just what that would taste like. I had plenty of green tea on hand, some blueberries in my freezer, and … Continue reading

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Bread

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The first time I made this banana bread, the weather was chilly and rainy…the perfect time for baking! As I’ve mentioned before, I like trying out different banana bread recipes and decided to try a whole wheat version that I found on … Continue reading

A Taste of Provence-Tomatoes Provençal

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DownloadedFileHave you ever been to Provence? I have never been to France but if I have the chance to go, Provence will be one of the areas I want to visit! This region of southern France stretches from the Mediterranean to the hills of Haute Provence, and from the Rhone River valley to the Italian Alps. It was the site of the first Roman colony beyond Italy and today it’s known for fragrant lavender fields, beautiful beaches like Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and Nice, quaint small villages, and fine wines and food. The cuisine of this area includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts–basically the core of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

I learned these things and more about Provence as I was looking through my review copy of Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, by François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska. This softcover book introduces you to the geography, history, traditions, wines, and recipes of the region. Here are some images of Provence you’ll find in the book:

Provence

Above images used with permission © François Milo.

Isn’t it beautiful? You’ll find more full color photography of picturesque Provence as well as many of the 47 recipes in the book, which are traditional favorites of the region…like Niçoise Salad, Fougasse with Tomatoes, Olives, and Peppers, Artichokes Barigoule, Tapenade, Swiss Chard Tart, Mediterranean Cod with Caramelized Onions, and Lemon Tart. The recipes are organized by the different areas of Provence that they’re popular in–Aix-en-Provence and Haute Provence, Marseille, La Cote Varoise, and Nice and the Riviera.

I decided to try the recipe for Tomatoes Provençal, because I love tomatoes and this is a simple yet delicious way to fix them–fresh tomatoes topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, and minced garlic. This makes a great side dish and would even work nicely for a spring or summer brunch. The book recommends serving “as a light meal with other Provençal delicacies and some crusty bread, or with meat.” For best results, use fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes!

 TOMATOES PROVENÇAL from Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living

Makes 4 servings

This traditional Provençial dish relies on the quality of the tomatoes used; they must be fresh and ripe. It’s best to prepare this dish in the summer, when tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness, sweet, and full of flavor….

  • 4 small to medium ripe tomatoes, halved and stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) chopped fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf parsley)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (I used the very fine breadcrumbs you purchase, but I think fresh breadcrumbs would be even better!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: I added some additional chopped parsley for garnish

Lightly dust the cut sides of the tomatoes with the sugar.

In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, cut sides down, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until they caramelize.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the parsley and garlic.

Flip the tomatoes and distribute the parsley and garlic mixture evenly onto them, pressing down so the mixture adheres to the tomato. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Distribute the breadcrumbs evenly among the tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and fully cooked through. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and serve warm. Note: I drizzled the remaining olive oil from the sauté pan over the tomatoes and garnished them with additional chopped parsley.

I thought the blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and touch of sea salt made a great flavor combination as a topping for the tomatoes.

Have you made or tasted this dish before? And are you ready to take a trip to Provence now? :)

Down-Home Tomatoes with Okra

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HealthySlowCookerCooking with a slow cooker is so convenient, and it’s even better when you can make healthy meals in it! I recently received a review copy of The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition, and found that it not only includes lots of healthy gluten-free recipes, but also has additional information about the health benefits of many of the ingredients. The book starts off with helpful tips on using your slow cooker, and then you’ll find recipes for Breakfast, Starters and Snacks, Soups, Poultry, Fish and Seafood, Beef and Veal, Pork and Lamb, Vegetarian Mains, Sides and Sauces, and Desserts.

Some of the recipes include Warm Black Bean Salsa, Gingery Carrot Soup with Orange and Parsley, French Basil Chicken, Texas-Style Chili con Carne, Mixed Vegetables in Spicy Peanut Sauce, Creamy Polenta with Corn and Chiles, and Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce. All recipes include information on Calories and Nutrients per serving, too.

I decided to try the Down-Home Tomatoes with Okra because I’ve never made an okra dish, and thought it was about time! I don’t eat okra that often, but learned from this book that it’s very good for you. Okra “…provides glutathione, an antioxidant that supports the immune system and assists your body with eliminating toxins (pg. 291)….”

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it out! I was a little surprised to see that it had bacon in it, but the book points out which type of bacon is healthiest to use (see recipe below). I used turkey bacon because I already had some on hand.

DOWN-HOME TOMATOES WITH OKRA from The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (15 mL)
  • 4 ounces chunk bacon, diced (125 g) I used turkey bacon–the book recommends using bacon without additives and synthetic nitrates and made from pigs that have been pastured, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2 mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns (2 mL)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes including juice (796 mL)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups sliced (1/2 inch or 1 cm) okra, about 12 ounces (375 g)-I used a 12-ounce bag of sliced frozen okra, thawed

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly. Add bell pepper and okra. Cover and cook on High for about 30 minutes, until okra is tender.

Nutrients Per Serving: Calories 101; Protein 4.4 g; Carbohydrates 12.2 g; Fat (Total) 4.5 g (Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g); Dietary Fiber 3.0 g; Sodium 339 mg; Cholesterol 6 mg. Excellent source of vitamins C and K; Good source of potassium; Source of Vitamins A and B-6, folate, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc; Contains a moderate amount of dietary fiber.

Courtesy The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2014 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

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You may want to add some additional seasoning to taste before serving. Do you have a favorite way you like to prepare okra?

Strawberry Orange Mint Cooler

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This is an easy, fruity drink to make–perfect for enjoying on a sunny spring day! This cooler has strawberries that you mash, or muddle, to release the juices, and then you add in the orange juice for a really great fruity combination! If you need to make a larger amount of servings, just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings you need–you could even mix up a large batch in a pitcher!

When I was mashing up my strawberries, I found it was easier to do that in a medium-size bowl, and I used a spoon to mash them. But you could also mash them right in the glass if that works best for you.

STRAWBERRY–ORANGE MINT COOLER by NancyCreative, adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 2 servings

  • Half a pint (8 ounces) of strawberries, hulled
  • 4 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups orange juice (or tangerine or mandarin juice)
  • mint springs for garnish, optional

Divide strawberries between 2 (10 or 12-ounce) glasses. Add 2 mint leaves to each glass. Muddle (or mash) strawberries until they are crushed and juicy (you can use a spoon or muddler to do this). Add 4 or 5 ice cubes to each glass, then fill each glass with 1 cup of orange juice. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

If you want a slightly fizzy drink, use 1 cup juice mixed with 1 cup sparkling water. It will be less sweet, but the fizziness is nice!

This would be a great beverage to serve at a spring breakfast or brunch. Maybe even on Easter! What types of fruity beverages do you like to make?

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