Monday, August 31, 2009

Zucchini burn-out? The key is variety.

I don't even grow zucchini, we get a lot through our CSA, so I can't imagine how much a home gardener harvests. I try to use it all without overloading my family with stir-fry dishes, like I did a few years ago, when my husband finally said to me, "Please no more zucchini stir-fries".

I bake, saute, grill and quite honestly I'm ready for the end of zucchini season.

I baked two batches of Zucchini basil muffins last week to stick in the freezer. I found the recipe last year at Get Rich Slowly. I use parsley instead of the basil because that is what I have in my garden. These muffins are tasty and will be good in the fall when I start making more soups and chilis.

I don't think a zucchini recipe can get any easier than the Farmers Market squash saute from Kraft. Again, I use parsley instead of the basil, because that is what I grow. I don't know why I have trouble growing basil, it always goes to seed right away for me.

I also make Zucchini Oven chips from Cooking Light magazine. They also are easy to make.

Have you tried my Garden Fresh Frittata and the Chocolate chip zucchini muffins that I wrote about a few weeks ago? I made another batch of the muffins for my freezer this week.

Have you gone through zucchini burn-out yet, or are you still enjoying the season? I promise this is my last zucchini post...until next summer :)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fall wardrobe: Organize now, save later.

I know it is hard to imagine blue jeans and sweaters when it is still 90 degrees outside. It finally feels like summer in the northeast after a relatively mild June & July. But I am hoping a little planning now, will save me money later when colder weather does hit.

This past week I spent some time in my closet cleaning, purging and organizing. I now have a list of my fall needs for when I am out and about.

I try to clean and purge the closets twice a year: fall and again in the spring. I am a recovering closet pack rat. I no longer need my professional wardrobe so I donated those clothes a couple of years ago.

Touch every item in your closet and drawers. Decide if each item should be kept, donated, or trash/recycled. Look at everything: clothes, shoes, undergarments, socks. I have tried to sell clothing at yard sales, but I don't sell too much adult clothing, so I just donate everything to Goodwill. I make a detailed list of all of the items and the condition they are in and staple it to the receipt they give me at Goodwill and file away until tax time. For the items that you are not keeping and aren't worth donating, can they be used as a cleaning rags? Can you think of another use other than throwing in the trash?

If possible divide your clothes by season. I organize my closet from left to right, short to long. Starting with tops, jackets, skirts, pants, dresses. Hang clothes in color order.

Fix any clothing that needs mended. Can you do the mending yourself or do you need a professional. Having something fixed rather than discarding it and buying new can save you money. A few years ago, the soles on my 12 year old Birkenstocks were destroyed from many years of hard use. I took the sandals to a shoe repair shop in my town and for $35 he re-soled the Birks for me. They were as good as new and will probably last another 12 years. A new pair would have set me back $120.

Start cleaning your clothes now. I don't like the smell of my fall clothes that have been hanging all summer. The clothes are clean, but they just don't smell very fresh. I clean almost everything and of course the weather is still good so I can hang outside.

Design your wardrobe around your lifestyle. I no longer need a professional wardrobe, since I have become a stay-at-home mom. Although, I do need at least one business-casual outfit for when I have an occasional meeting in regards to my husband's business. My sahm wardrobe consists mainly of blue jeans, khakis and sweaters in the fall.

Look at your fall calendar for any special events that would require a special outfit, like a wedding or class reunion or holiday party. Can you borrow from a friend?

Build a wardrobe with quality, interchangeable items. When it comes to clothing, I look for quality, timeless pieces. I have found that in the end quality clothing always saves me money because the clothing tends to last longer. I want to look stylish, but not too trendy that the clothes look ridiculous next year. I expect to be able to wear my clothes for a few years especially my jeans, pants, shoes and jackets. I used to think quantity was important, but now I would rather have a few quality pieces than a lot of cheap, poorly made clothes. BTW, quality doesn't have to come from a high end department store. Check out your local thrift store or TJ Maxx and Marshall's

Make a list of your needs and keep it with you. With a list, you will avoid buying duplicate items. You will be better prepared when you are browsing through your favorite stores. Stick to your list.

I also sorted through my kids' clothes for Fall. Fortunately my baby can wear hand-me-downs from my oldest and they are in very good condition. My oldest, however, doesn't have any hand-me-downs, so she is in need of some Fall clothes. She is almost 4 and I learned a valuable lesson this past summer. I bought her a lot of new summer clothes at the end of last summer on clearance. She had a drawer full of really cute shorts and t-shirts from Target and Children's Place and she probably only wore half of the clothes. I bought too much, she just doesn't need that much. I do laundry daily, so she never runs out of things to wear. She is definitely starting to have an opinion on what she wears, so I will let her be involved in shopping in the future, but I am limiting the clothes. I will never make the mistake of over-buying clothes for her again. The good thing is that the clothes will be passed on to my younger daughter.

Have you started to go through your closet to prepare for Fall?

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Home Gardening: A little patience is required.

Remember the melon jungle I had in my garden a few weeks ago. I finally harvested my first fruit.

This cantaloupe was so sweet, juicy and delicious. I picked it just in time.

I also picked my first watermelon. I swear it was as heavy as my first born. I was so proud...

Ouch. I cried. The rind looked ready and I swear it sounded hollow when I thumped it. I think this is called a rookie mistake or impatience or a combination of the two.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blueberry Ice Cream

Have you ever seen such a beautiful ice cream sundae?

We eat a lot of ice cream in the summertime. Well, who am I kidding, we eat ice cream year round. Before kids, it was nothing for hubby and me to go to get ice cream several times a week. We are within walking or biking distance to 3 ice cream shops. Now that we have 2 kids, it can get expensive when you are buying 4 ice cream cones, so we have been eating a lot of ice cream at home. I buy it at the grocery store when there is a sale or I make it myself.

The kids like to eat ice cream cones and I like to use my new parfait glasses that I found for FREE at a yard sale.

Last week, I made blueberry ice cream with blueberries I bought through a local fundraiser. It was yummy and it is a very easy recipe with only 4 ingredients. I found the recipe here.

I made mint ice cream earlier in the summer with the overgrowth of mint from my garden. Next flavor...zucchini??? Just kidding, I am going to make peach.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor this summer?

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This post is linked to Tasty Tuesdays and Tempt my TummyTuesdays and Friday Feasts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Garden Fresh Frittata

We personally don't grow zucchini, but we get a lot of it with our CSA. I made this yummy frittata for dinner and served with a garden salad and fresh fruit. The recipe also includes tomatoes and parsley from my garden. You could easily add, delete and/or switch other garden fresh ingredients that you have on hand. Maybe peppers, squash, peas, etc. Experiment and see what tasty dish you come up with.

Garden Fresh Frittata
  • 2 medium tomatoes - diced and placed in a sieve to drain a bit if really juicy
  • 1 medium zucchini - grated
  • about 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley - or a little more or less
  • 1 garlic clove - minced or grated
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1/4 teas freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cheese - shredded cheddar - or whatever you like or have in the fridge
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup scallions - to your taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. In mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, flour, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley until smooth. Stir in cheese, scallions, tomatoes, and zucchini. Pour mixture into pan. Bake the frittata for 30-35 minutes or until it is set in the center and golden on the top.

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