Summer Foods, 2012

Since this used to pass for a poor man's excuse for a food blog, I thought I'd post a few recipes that we've enjoyed this summer.

First up: Caprese Salad

We didn't use a recipe for these, so I'll talk you through what happened.
I thinly sliced two large tomatoes, and a big ball of mozzarella. We actually had 4 tomatoes total, and I wanted to make the mozz go a little further. So I mixed up a couple big hunks of goat cheese with the juice of half a lemon, and the leaves from about 3 sprigs of our lemon basil plant. Lemon basil is amazing! It has a sweet, lemony taste and aroma, and it went perfectly with these. After that was mixed up, I spread it on every-other tomato, so the stack alternates: tomato, basil, mozzarella, tomato with goat cheese spread, larger regular basil leaf, and then I started the process again. The mozzarella ball was definitely enough for each of these stacks, and the goat cheese added a little flavor. We each ate two, and we also made some herbed dropped biscuits.

Next: Chocolate Chia Pudding with Peanut Butter Crunch Balls.

I've been using a recipe from Hell Yeah It's Vegan for the basic chocolate pudding recipe. It's just chia seeds, cocoa powder, almond milk, sweetener, and vanilla. It's ready in 30 minutes, though it's also good if you let it set a bit longer. We had this for dessert after sushi night, and I love to serve it in these Japanese rice bowls my mom gave me. When I was a kid, she always used the bowls to serve pudding or jello, and it's really a great size bowl for each portion.
After I had the hang of this version, I did a google search for a peanut butter-chocolate version, and I found one here. Then I had the idea to add the peanut butter crunch balls that recently appeared on Oh She Glows, and they are a perfect topping. They're super easy to make, and I just stored the extra ones in the freezer (though they didn't last long!). Chia pudding is my new favorite way to combine omega 3s and 6s with dessert (see a description of chia seeds' nutritional info here).

Next: Gnocchi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Goat Cheese.

The Kitchn's Facebook page shared this last week, and we immediately decided to make it. Everything in it is summery, starchy goodness. Since the goat cheese doesn't come in until the end, it melts and coats everything a light, flavorful sauce. Here's a fun fact: I don't like parsley. Ever. This is only a real (white girl) problem when a recipe calls for it, but we usually sub some other herb. After those caprese salads, we had a lot of basil on hand, so I just julienned it and added it to this, for some more herby flavor. This meal was really easy and will probably show up again on our weekly menu.

This week we decided to make the BBQ Chickpea Burgers, also from Oh She Glows. 

They are only slightly complicated to make, and they are SO GOOD. The carrots and spices give every burger a ton of flavor, and the pumpkin and sunflower seeds add a good texture. We used cilantro instead of parsley, and I used the same bbq sauce from the recipe as a condiment. The recipe for fries in that same post is also a pretty good one, though we had to stop ourselves from finishing what would have been a 1/2 lb. of potatoes...each. The burger recipe made 8 burgers, so we had a lot of leftovers - something John and I both love.

We also recently made: Summer Sweet Corn Tacos, from Vegan Pandamonium.

These are super easy and tasty tacos. We cooked the sweet corn, but it actually calls for raw corn, which would take even less time. Throw the corn in a bowl with a can of beans, some spices, and a chopped tomato, and you're basically done. We made a slightly larger batch of the corn/bean mixture, and had this for a couple nights in a row. It's a great weeknight, summery meal. 

And finally, I improved a simple dessert when I had an INTENSE OMG CRAVING FOR CHOCOLATE RIGHT FREAKING NOW! the other night.
As a joke, someone at our engagement party gave John a box of graham crackers (I should say, a neighborhood inside joke from way before my time), but he doesn't like them anymore. So I've been slowly eating the whole box, spreading each one with peanut butter. Then it occurred to me that I could make a very simple chocolate sauce and pour that on top - because how could that be bad, right? I make this very simple chocolate sauce from time to time and put it on frozen strawberries: about 2 tbs chocolate chips and a couple splashes of almond milk. You melt it with the heat on very low, stirring constantly. If it's too thin, add more chocolate, or turn the heat off and let it sit for a minute or two, and it will thicken up. I spooned that chocolate onto these little graham-pb sandwiches, and then put the whole plate in the freezer for about 30 minutes while John and I watched more of Avatar - the Last Airbender (no spoilers, please! I love that show!). That hardened them up and made the whole thing taste more like an ice cream sandwich - I'd highly recommend them!

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