Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gazpacho Andaluz

It's hot outside. I'm not whining...well maybe. There are three fans blowing and the air conditioner is on full blast barely keeping up. But it feels good. What is summer without some hot weather and we haven't had a whole lot of it this year. Besides, I have a great recipe that will cool you off.

With all of the ripe, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and colorful, tasty peppers, it's the perfect time for a simple and delicious cold summer soup.  

You're probably thinking, soup in the summer, and it's cold? If you haven't had gazpacho it may sound strange, but it's delicious and refreshing. Not to mention very easy to make. 

A little history lesson...Gazpacho is a tomato-based, vegetable soup traditionally served cold, originating in the southern Spanish region of AndalucĂ­a. You'll see all sorts of variations on Gazpacho and most are really good. This recipe came from my mom. She got it when we were living in Spain. Let's just say we have very fond memories of it. 

Just blend up a mixture of summer tomatoes, green or red peppers, cucumbers and day old bread. It's great for a picnic, appetizer (in little shot glasses is fun), or just a nice cool lunch or dinner. Serve with some grilled shrimp or fish. Lovely!

Gazpacho Andaluz

5 large tomatoes - you can use canned tomatoes or half and half
1-2 cloves garlic - depending on size and how much garlic you like 
2 small green pepper - can use red too
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups day old bread (like french bread), roughly chopped in large cubes
salt to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons)
3 cups water

In a small bowl, add 1 cup of bread and add 1/2 cup water to let the bread absorb it. In a blender, add 4 tomatoes, garlic, 1 small pepper, 1/2 cup onion, 1/4 of the cucumber, olive oil, red wine vinegar and the water soaked bread (squeeze the water out). Blend well. Add in 3 cups water and blend. You can add more vinegar if you like it more tangy and make sure you season it well. Refrigerate until cold.

In a small frying pan, add 2 tablespoon olive oil and heat until warm. Add 1 cup of day old bread. Season with salt and pepper. Let the bread brown until crispy. Add to a small bowl. In small bowls add diced up cucumber, tomato, pepper, and onion. Some basil is good too. Serve up the soup and have people add the garnishes they like. Serve cold.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mom's Taco Salad

This taco salad recipe brings back memories. We ate this a lot growing up because it was easy and something everyone loved...even us kids.

My mom got this recipe from a friend of hers while my dad was still in the Air Force. It has such a nice combination of flavors and a tangy slightly sweet dressing. It may sound strange when you read the recipe but no one will know what the dressing is. I always get asked, "what's in the dressing?" You'll never guess.

You really can make it your own by adding the things you like and leaving out what you don't. If you want to make this salad ahead of time, leave the dressing off and mix it all together just before serving.

Cook your hamburger and onion together until done.

Tear lettuce into a large bowl.

Cut up tomato, green onion and olives.

Grate the cheese.

Add the tomato, olives, cheese, green onions, and cheese to the lettuce.

Mix it all together.

Make your dressing.

Break up your corn chips. Trader Joe's has some organic corn chips you can use as well.

Add your dressing, avocado, and sprinkle the corn chips on top. Serve and devour...

Taco Salad

2 heads of romaine or 1/2 large head of iceberg lettuce, torn or chopped into bite size pieces
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
2 green onions, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large can black olives, sliced or 1 small can sliced olives
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 avocados, cut into bite size pieces (add 2 if you love avocado)
6 tablespoons French Dressing
1/2 cup salsa (we have always used La Victoria Salsa Supreme for this)
1 cup of crushed corn chips (put them in a zip lock baggie and crush with hands or with a mallet)

Add ground beef, onions, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper (to taste) in a large saute pan and cook on medium heat until meat is cooked through. Drain any fat off the meat.

Mix French dressing and salsa together in a small bowel. When ready to eat, add all the ingredients together. Mix in half of the dressing and add more if you need it. Put as much dressing on as you like. Add avocado last so it doesn't get mushy. Sprinkle corn chips on top of salad and serve. This isn't a dish to eat as leftovers as it will get soggy, so plan to eat what you make...shouldn't be any problem! Serves 4.

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