Fresh Peach "Milkshake" (aka Smoothy)

I am lucky. My children are still at an age where I can successfully lie to them when it is appropriate to do so. Tonight, they requested cereal for dinner. Since this is a non-meal in my opinion (cereal, by its very nature, is heavily processed and therefore not good for you) I wanted them to have something healthy to go with it. I made them Fresh Peach "Milkshakes" to go along with their dinner and they were delighted.

I can usually get away with calling a smoothy a milkshake when the fruit is sweet and super ripe. My kids can easily sniff out yogurt in the mix if I am using frozen or not quite ripe produce. Since my fruit bowl is over-flowing at the moment, I knew I would be able to pull it off today.

Everyone enjoyed the "milkshakes" tonight without question.

Fresh Peach "Milkshake" (makes 2)

3 small, very ripe peaches, pitted and peeled
1 C chopped ice
1 C whole milk plain yogurt
1/2 C 1% milk
1 T agave nectar (to taste as the sweetness of your fruit demands)

Add all ingredients to blender and mix well to combine.

Lentil and Black Bean Salad

This recipe is similar to Penny's Brown Rice Salad in flavor, but features lentils instead of brown rice. Lentils are packed with fiber and protein, so this would be an excellent vegetarian main course.

Lentil and Black Bean Salad
(makes 12 servings)

3 C cooked lentils
1 15-oz can of reduced sodium black beans, well rinsed
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
2 T dried parsley
1 C olive oil
juice of one lemon
2 T cider vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add next 6 ingredients and shake well to combine. Pour over salad and toss lightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The Salad Days of Summer

Today I hosted Cooking Club. The idea behind cooking club is simple: get a few like-minded Moms together, plan a menu, meet at a rotating house and cook together. At the end of the morning, you have dinner all prepared and have you spent a lovely morning hanging out with the girls.

Usually the Club makes an entire meal: protein, starch, veggie and sometimes desert. As summer is now upon us, I wanted to switch things up a bit. Today we made a weeks worth of salads and sides.

The first two receipes are tried and true, old standbys for me. I love them both. I hope the Cooking Club ladies and everyone else enjoys them.

Penny's Brown Rice Salad
(Note: I always switch up the veggies in this salad, but keep the rice/bean/dressing ratio the same)

2 C cooked beans (black, kidney, pinto, etc.)
3 C cooked brown rice
4 green onions, sliced
2 stalks celery
1 small red onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C lime juice
1 T white vinegar
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Gently mix the rice, beans and veggies in a bowl. In a seperate bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss.

Couscous Salad with Feta and Artichokes
(Pictured above with the addition of tomato, chick peas and crushed pita chips )

1 1/2 C dry couscous, prepared according to package directions
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/3 C chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, dill -- whatever you have on hand)
juice of one lemon
1/2 C olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add couscous, artichokes, cheese and herbs to large bowl and toss to combine. In a seperate bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings and mix. Combine salad and dressing and serve as is or with additions mentioned above (also excellent with chicken).

Grilled Marinated Zucchini

1 1/3 C olive oil
1/3 C red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
3/4 t Italian seasoning blend
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C Parmesean cheese
3 zucchini, washed and sliced thin

Add all ingredients, except zucchini, to bowl and mix well to combine. Add zucchini to bowl or plastic bag and pour dressing over. Marinate in refregerator for at least one hour. Heat grill or broiler to high. Grill or broil for 3 - 5 minutes per side or until browned and tender. Serve as is or topped with additional cheese.

In addition to these recipes, we also made:

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
Homemade Caeser Dressing

Apricot Strawberry Salsa

Last night I made mexican-seasoned chicken breasts (boneless skinless checken breasts seasoned liberally with homemade taco seasoning, sprinkled with salt and grilled). I have lots of chicken left over and I needed something to go with it (BTW, last night I turned my chicken into quesadillas with grilled peppers and onions in a low-carb tortilla). I dug into my fridge today and came up with this. It's yummy.

Apricot Strawberry Salsa (makes 4 cups)

1 lb fresh apricots, seeded and diced
1/4 lb strawberries, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 T fresh parsley, chopped (or cilantro, if you have it)
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
2 T red onion, chopped fine
1 T olive oil
pinch cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to bowl and toss to combine. If this will sit for longer than a few hours, reserve strawberries and add right before serving.

Here it is in all of its glory, served over a seasoned chicken breast with quick sauteed zucchini and avacado.