Vibrant Food: Beautiful and Unattainable

I love to cook. I love using fresh, locally-grown ingredients that are colorful and tasty. When I saw Vibrant Food by Kimberly Hasselbrink as an option on Blogging for Books, I got SO excited – I obviously had to order it.

Let me just tell you – I received it in July, and I still haven’t made anything from it. The book itself is absolutely gorgeous. The photography is beautiful, and I LOVE the simple layout and design. I also appreciate that it is divided by seasons rather than by type of food. I’m quirky like that.

The only problem is, the recipes all use ingredients that I can’t easily find here in Springfield, MO, and when I have been able to find them, they’ve been rather expensive. I frankly didn’t want to spend the money on ingredients that I would only use once or twice. Don’t get me wrong, the recipes look delicious, but they seem better suited for people with more time – and a bigger budget – than I currently have.

Even though I haven’t made any of the recipes yet, I’m definitely holding onto it. I’m sure I’ll find something to make from it eventually. It’s just not in the cards for right now.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Perfect Summer Dinner

Guys, I LOVE summer. Seriously, it’s my favorite season. I love the heat (although I’m not a huge fan of the humidity), the sunshine, the pool, the longer days, and the produce. Is there anything better than fresh summer produce? No? I didn’t think so.

The super easy dinner I made the other night featured tomatoes. Perfect, juicy, wonderful tomatoes. Unfortunately, it did not feature these tomatoes that my sister picked from my grandparents’ garden. I left the homegrown ones at their house. #fail

Freshly picked tomatoes from my grandparents' garden.

Freshly picked tomatoes from my grandparents’ garden.

Sunday evening, I wanted something that featured tomatoes. It also needed to be quick to make, because I was getting hangry. For those of you who don’t know what hangry means, it is when you’re angry because you’re hungry. Hanging out at the pool can be hard work!

I decided that an open-face tomato sandwich would fit the bill.  I baked mine for a few minutes, so it was creamy from the mozzarella cheese and tangy from the tomato. It was perfection.

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For this deliciousness, you will need:

  • Bread (I used some take-and-bake bread that had roasted garlic in it. SO GOOD.)
  • Tomatoes (obviously)
  • Fresh mozzarella (regular would be fine in a pinch)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

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So, first, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then, I put a piece of foil on a cookie sheet and sliced a few of the bread on it. I drizzled that with some olive oil. I put a couple of thin slices of the fresh mozzarella on the bread, and sliced up a tomato on top of the cheese. I sprinkled some salt and pepper over the tomatoes, and five minutes later, I threw everything into the oven. About 10 minutes later, everything was perfect. The tomatoes were warm, the cheese was melted, and the bread was toasted. Mmmm….soooo good!

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This is SO easy to make! I did end up making a salad to eat with it, but everything was finished in less than 15 minutes. Now, that’s the way to make dinner.

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

 

Mastering the Delicious and Fuss-Free Lunch

I don’t know about you, but during the week, it is waaaaaaay too easy for me to think, “Oh, I’ll just grab lunch from [insert favorite restaurant that’s near work here] today.” As it turns out, that gets pricey. Who knew, right?! A couple of weeks ago, I made a vow to stop eating out for lunch. So far, I’ve been doing pretty well!

Last night, I was trying to think of a lunch that would be easy to throw together for the week, and I came up with a pretty tasty solution! The best part was, I didn’t even have to go to the store for ingredients! In case I haven’t sold you on it yet, it only took 10 minutes to make, and I only used one pot. That, my friends, is a winning combination.

I ended up making gnocchi and peas with a butter-lemon sauce. It’s kind of sweet from the peas and kind of tangy from the lemon. I added some basil to freshen it up a bit, and it is good (if I do say so myself). I was so pleased with it,  I decided to share the recipe with all of you! This is great for lunch, but it would also be a delicious side dish, and if you added a salad, it would be perfect for dinner!

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10-Minute Gnocchi with Peas

(Serves 4)

You will need:

  • 16oz package of gnocchi
  • 1.5C frozen peas
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper

First, add water to the pot and bring it up to a boil. Then, add the frozen peas and  gnocchi to the boiling water (I didn’t even bother thawing out the peas first). Neither of these ingredients takes long to cook – about 5 minutes should be good. You’ll know the gnocchi is finished when it rises to the top of the pot.

Once the peas and gnocchi are finished, dump them into a colander so you can make a quick sauce in the pot. Add the olive oil and butter to the pot. After the butter has melted, add the lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper. Then, put the gnocchi and peas back in the pot with sauce and stir.  I also added some parmeasn cheese to the top.

See how easy it is?! I highly recommend giving it a try. If you’re interested in more vegetarian dishes, you might want to check out these summer pastas. They look tasty!

What are some of your go-to lunch ideas?