Scaling back the adventure and tasty summer treats.

Our first week is almost over and I’ve found the transition to a meat-free diet to be pretty easy.  I don’t find myself craving it and we have enough variety in our diets that I haven’t gotten bored. We’re still eating very balanced meals and have managed to stay away from packaged convenience foods with the exception of the occasional veggie burger.

The biggest issue I’m facing is with my ego.  After a few failed dinner attempts,  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am no vegetarian Ina Garten. Yet.

Usually, I can hold my own in the kitchen. I can deconstruct and combine recipes and swap in our preferred ingredients. I can get a taste rolling around in my mind and find a way to create it. But cutting out meat has forced me to step outside of my cooking comfort zone and try recipes that use a lot of new and unusual ingredients. Some ingredients have sent me across town to five different stores and without being too familiar with them, I can’t really say it’s worth the effort or if they are easily omitted.

So I’m scaling back the ambition for a while and sticking to what I know. It’s not defeat, I just need to build up my ego again with some standard vegetarian fare before busting out the nutritional yeast or tahini sauce again.

On to more cheerful and tasty things.

Today, our close friends had us over for a gender reveal party.  Have you ever been to one of those? It was so much fun. They had their 20-week anatomy scan today and asked the technician not tell them the gender but to write it down. After the appointment, they swung by our house and dropped the envelope off and for 4 whole hours, I was the only person in the world who knew the gender of their baby.  Except for the ultrasound tech, but she probably didn’t really care (no offense, guys). I filled a box with the appropriate gender-colored balloons and the parents-to-be were surprised along with everyone else to find out.

We all brought a side dish and I decided on a simple corn and tomato salad based on recipe from my sister-in-law, Julie. These ratios made enough for about 15 adults and you can easily modify to suit your needs.

Corn and Tomato Salad

Salad:

  • 6 ears fresh sweet corn
  • 6 cups grape or cherry tomatoes (I used 3 pints), halved
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 4 TBPS fresh basil, chopped

Dressing:

  • 6 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon

Husk the corn; boil ears for 3 minutes and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off of the ear. In a large bowl, combine the corn, halved tomatoes, cubed mozzarella and basil.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (except for the lemon); pour over corn mixture and gently toss. Cut the lemon in half, removing any visible seeds, and squeeze juice onto the salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Actually, I waited to add the mozzarella until the very end because I wanted to take out a few servings for the dairy-free party-goers. The original recipe didn’t call for the lemon but I think it adds the perfect summer flavor. I don’t own a zester (tisk, tisk) but lemon zest would be a great addition, too. Lastly, Julie noted that she doesn’t always use white wine vinegar and that plain white vinegar or even basalmic works well if in a pinch.

I also made these ahhhh-mazing peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies.

peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies

I’m fairly certain these cookies are one of the dwindling reasons Hub stays married to this crazy lady.

The recipe isn’t a fancy one. I just swap in dairy-free butter and add in some dairy-free chocolate chips.

I realize I’ve been posting a lot about food, lately. Sorry. Or, you’re welcome. I don’t really know. This isn’t a food blog because I’m really not that great of a cook; it just seems to be what’s on my mind, lately. And some of these recipes are just too good to keep sequestered away in the dark, scary recesses of my mind. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Dirty Little Clean Secret, maybe it’s time for one this weekend?

I hope everyone is having a relaxing, quiet Friday evening. Or, a wild and crazy Friday evening filled to the brim with debauchery and shenanigans, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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