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A-MAZING Cucumber Salsa

I just had a taste of an amazing cucumber salsa this morning (yes, this morning - there's never a bad time for salsa).  SO good.  It was so refreshing, and I could see myself consuming an entire batch alone.  So off to the store I went to get what I needed to make it ASAP.  It's the perfect taste for a hot day like today! It had garlic scapes in it - and I had seen them at the farmer's market this weekend, but didn't know what they were, or what I would do with them.  Enter my mom, who introduced me to the salsa, and Google, where I figured out exactly what they are!  Here ya go: Garlic scapes are the curly flower stalks snapped off the garlic plants (which is done to increase the size of the garlic bulbs for harvest).  Garlic scapes can be chopped and used like garlic, or used as garlic-flavored scallions (mmmmmm - stir-fry?!).  You should store them in the fridge, unwashed, loosely-wrapped in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. So here's the recipe - amounts ar
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Marinated Flank Steak II

Marinated flank steak can be prepared easily for a great meal during the week.  We've been using the same marinade for a long time, and recently gave this recipe a try.  It came from a pile of recipes I had ripped from a magazine (I couldn't find which one) years ago. We really liked the flavors, especially the fresh rosemary.  Marinated Flank Steak II 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx. the juice from 1/2 a good size lemon) 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 - 1-1/2 lb flank steak 1/2 tsp kosher salt Personally, I just dump all of the ingredients into a freezer bag, add the meat, seal it up, and knead it a bit.  Then I put the whole bag in a bowl (just in case the bag leaks), and stick it in the fridge. You can get fancy and use a whisk and a bowl, and whisk the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, brown s

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

I could eat tacos or some variation thereof every day.  There is always some kind of taco-related item in our weekly meal plan.  We love Mexican/Tex-Mex/Americanized Mexican food. Our kids were eating salsa as soon as they could have solid foods.  We always have fresh cilantro on hand. (I can't grow it in my garden to save my life, though - what's the deal?) We have cotija cheese and picked red onions in the fridge at all times. This carnitas recipe is really simple - throw it in the slow cooker, and forget about it.  Our kids love it (adjust the heat to your family's liking).  Put out a selection of toppings, some chips and guac or salsa, veggies or fruit, and voila!   Dinner's served.  It's great for feeding a crowd, too.  Savory Pork Carnitas 3-4 pounds pork shoulder/pork butt 1 large onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles (adjust heat by using mild or hot) 1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning (I use about 1/4 c. of The Spi

Cream Soup Base

If the idea of dumping a cylindrical can of goop into a recipe you're making at home gives you pause, or if you just want to control the ingredients and sodium you're adding, then give this DIY Condensed "Cream of" Soup recipe a shot.  It comes together in minutes. Cream Soup Base  2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp unbleached AP flour 1/2 c. chicken (or vegetable) broth 1/2 c. milk (skim, 1%, whatever you have) 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt) 1/4 tsp. onion powder Melt butter over medium-low heat in a non-stick skillet.  Whisk in flour until completely combined, and cook about 2 minutes, or until raw flour taste is gone. Don't let it burn or brown! Whisk in broth, then milk.  The mixture will thicken fairly quickly. Add in seasoning, and you're done!  This makes the equivalent of one can of condensed soup. (You could sauté finely diced mushrooms and onions and stir in for a cream of mushroom version, too.)

Fresh Tomatillo Lime Salsa

 We have a local restaurant that brings out a trio of salsas with chips when you sit down.  I am the only one in the family who is passionate about the green tomatillo one, so it's usually all mine. I decided to try to make some at home, and while the real deal is the best, this was pretty great. The restaurant strains out the seeds, I think, so it's super smooth, but they don't bother me, so I left them in. This is a super fast, fresh, tasty salsa - takes just a few minutes to throw together. I threw all of this in the blender, so there wasn't a ton of chopping to do.  It will thicken up a bit once it sits in the fridge, so don't freak out if it's really thin and watery at first. Fresh Tomatillo Lime Salsa Makes about 2 pints 1 lb. - 1-1/2 lb.  tomatillos, husked, rinsed, cored, quartered, no more descriptive words I promise 1 larger or 2 smaller jalapeños, seeded (use gloves when handling to prevent burning eyes!) Juice of 1/2 a lime - about

Broccoli Salad with Bacon

I love this salad. It starts out all healthy and great with broccoli, cauliflower and onion, and then you go ahead and de-healthify it with bacon and cheese.  And mayo.  Yeah, baby!  This is a favorite wherever I bring it, and sometimes we whip up a little batch at home for lunch or dinner. I tend to "measure" with my eyes, so mix it up to your liking, using the amounts below as a guide. Just start tossing in handfuls or spoonfuls and see how it looks - maybe you like only 1/2 c. cheese or 3 lb. of bacon - whatever floats your boat. You can even throw in some julienned carrots or sunflower kernels for a change. Some people like to add golden raisins.  I am not one of those people. The dressing for this salad can be spicy, sweet, or anywhere in between -  make it to your family's preference.  If you leave out the hot sauce completely, try red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar to add a little different flavor. Keep in mind the flavor of the hot sauce intensifi

Greek Chicken with Naan

This is my new favorite meal, and I made it for everyone I brought meals to this summer - a refreshing alternative to tacos and pasta dishes. It's super easy, and really tasty.  It's perfect for summer when you have a bounty of fresh cukes and tomatoes in the garden, but I've been keeping it in the rotation all year long. This is less a recipe and more of an ingredient list - eyeball the quantities and adjust to the number of people you're feeding - it's easy to make for 2 or 20. Tip: Costco has these fab packages of mini Naan bread - get it, freeze it, and you can heat as many as you need in the toaster - so easy!) Greek Chicken Boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips Fresh lemon juice Oregano (dried) Garlic powder, salt and pepper for seasoning (Roma) tomatoes, diced (Seedless) cucumber, diced Red onion, minced Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced Feta cheese (use real, regular Feta - no need for fat-free or reduced-fat - just don't

Fab Homemade Bread

Have you tried this awesome no-knead bread , yet? It was all the rage several years ago, and I gave it a shot.  If I can do it, anyone can.  It's easy, delicious, and you can play around with different flavor combinations.  Our favorite was simply cheddar cheese.  I can't wait to try some new ones!  Rosemary and garlic and some herby combinations are sounding kind of great right now... I didn't change anything about the recipe, and I used my trusty Aldi cast iron Dutch oven (one of the best purchases ever, BTW).   I made a few loaves at a time, so we could consume one immediately, eat one the rest of the week, and then shared with some people.  I even brought a warm loaf to our school bake sale once and it sold immediately.