Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is another summer favorite - it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare- its quick, easy, delicious and versatile.

When I can, I use fresh vegetables and basil from our garden. (I will tell you though, winters are long waiting for our garden to start up again!)

For the type of Caprese pictured at left, you need: some grape or cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella "pearls" from the deli section, (or a cubed block of store bought mozzarella will substitute in a pinch) fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and a drop of balsamic vinegar. The amounts will vary depending on the flavors you prefer, but generally, use equal amounts of cheese and tomatoes, and add all the other ingredients to taste, going light on the oil as to not make it too soggy, and going the lightest on the vinegar or it will be way too strongly flavored.

Wash basil leaves gently, and set on a towel to dry.

Meanwhile, cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place in a serving bowl.

Add the (drained) mozzarella pearls or cubes to the bowl and mix well.

Take 3-4 leaves of the washed and dried basil, and lay them in a pile. Roll lengthwise into a tube (does not have to be perfect) and hold together in one hand, while snipping thin slices into the bowl with kitchen scissors.
Snipping Basil 
(See image at right.)  Mix to distribute. Repeat if more basil is desired. 

Drizzle Olive Oil, one or two tablespoons at a time, mixing to distribute, until the desired amount is added.

Add freshly ground pepper, a dash of salt about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar if desired. (Do not add too much!)

Mix well, and chill until serving. Enjoy with some Italian bread.

Some people like to add things like black olives, shredded chicken or prosciutto, to this dish, making it more versatile. Feel free to use this recipe as a starting point and experiment with different combinations!

How do you make your Caprese salad? As it is or do you add unusual ingredients? Please share with us in the comments section!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mom's Avocado & Orange Salad


This is a recipe that my mother used to make in the summer when I was a kid. 

My mom grew up in Florida, where avocados and oranges were plentiful. This was her "go-to" summer salad that goes well with just about anything.

I had completely forgotten about this wonderful dish until one day a few years ago I was slicing avocado onto my garden salad and suddenly it was just there again! 

Its now a permanent part of our regular weekly dinner menus all summer long.

Versatile and delicious, this is the most refreshing and easiest summer salad you will ever make! 

Mom's Orange & Avocado Salad: (Serves 2-3)

2 ripe Avocados 

2 medium Naval oranges

Olive Oil


Black Pepper 

Peel, remove membrane from orange, and cut everything into chunks.

Place in a medium size bowl and drizzle 3-4 TBS olive oil over fruit. Mix well.

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Let sit for about 10 minutes or chill in refrigerator overnight.

Serve cold or at room temperature. If necessary, adjust olive oil and spices before serving.

Enjoy as is or with crumbled feta cheese and sliced Italian rolls.


You can squeeze a tablespoon or so of lemon juice on avocado so it does not turn brown, but I doubt the salad will last long enough to turn color! Enjoy!

Food tastes better when it looks better, so 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cooking: Salad Solutions

We love fresh garden salads in our house, but we each like different things in it: Jay likes iceberg lettuce, onions and sliced mushrooms, Lauren does NOT like olives or tomatoes (unless they are grape tomatoes), and I like baby spinach, avocado, sunflower seeds and feta cheese.

So after grocery shopping and during my 'once a week' cooking, (I will discuss that in a separate blog post) I take about 20 minutes to wash, dry and prepare the salad greens, vegetables and other salad fixings, and place them in separate containers, so that individual salad preparation is a breeze. 

At dinnertime, I can just set out everything on the buffet - 'salad bar' style, and have everyone make their own. Time saved: about 30 minutes each time salad is served.

That is what we call a Stress-Free Salad!

What time-savers do you use in your own kitchen?

Tell us in the comments below!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Controlling the Clutter: Entryways

Entryways tend to get cluttered quickly because we just drop things there as we come in. Most of these items don't belong on this table, because they serve no purpose or function in this space.

My dad use to challenge us kids to 'find a place' for our things, or they would "dissappear". That is exactly what needs to be done here.

For a quick de-clutter, place all unnecessary items in a box or basket to find places for later.

For a permanent de-clutter, skip the box or basket, and go right to finding places for everything.

Only keep the items in this space that absolutely belong there.

If there is no place for it, then maybe you don't need it at all. If you don't need it, donate it or toss it. If it's broken, fix it right away or toss it. You may need to do this once a week-as I'm sure your home is as lived-in as my own, but it takes less than 5 minutes, and is absolutely worth the effort! Make it a habit and soon you will have de-clutterted all your common area living spaces permanently.
Adding an interesting, colorful area rug after you've de-cluttered , makes this small foyer feel like a stress-free space- bright, happy and welcoming. Less mess is less stress...and less stress is more fun!

Welcome Home !