What is it about summer that makes it impossible to get things done? The days are longer, but they go by lightening quick. My to-do list continues to grow, yet every minute is packed with “busy-ness.” Take this blog, for example. Most of the year, I can manage to write a post at least once a week. In the summer — this summer, at least — it’s more like once a month! So here it is, four weeks after my last post about my birthday and I’m finally getting around to posting about two of my favorite birthday gifts this year. No surprise, they both happen to be food!
Friends in Pennsylvania sent me a huge box filled with all kinds of Italian pasta — none of which I can find in my part of the universe. One of the most intriguing to me was the pasta shaped like olive leaves, shown above with homemade tomato sauce and Gardein meatballs. (Note: this was my first time trying the Gardein meatballs and it won’t be my last — they have a terrific flavor and great texture. They bake up in the oven while you make the sauce and pasta.) Below is a photo of the pasta label shown with 1 uncooked “olive leaf.” I love the fun shapes and evocative names of Italian pasta. I’m always intrigued by how the different shapes taste different, too, despite being made with the same ingredients.
I also received a gift of several containers of fresh-picked local blueberries and black raspberries — making it a “berry” happy birthday, indeed. Here’s a picture of the blueberry pie I made with some of the berries. I still have lots more berries waiting in the freezer!
I love how summertime cooking revolves around fresh produce prepared in simple ways that let the vegetables themselves shine. Lots of grilled vegetable skewers, roasted potatoes, beets, and corn on the cob. Loads of delicious green beans. And, of course, zucchini, zucchini, and more zucchini…
Many thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday. You truly made my day!
Thanks also to everyone who entered my cookbook giveaway. The winner is #26 — because that’s the date of my birthday! Congratulations to Patty Roker!
Patty: please email me with your mailing address and I’ll send you a copy of More Quick-Fix Vegan.
In her comment, Patty asked what I was cooking for my birthday dinner. The answer is: NOTHING!
I never cook on my birthday! Instead, Jon and I drove to my favorite Thai restaurant for an amazing lunch. While we were in “civilization”, we did some shopping. On the way back home, we stopped at another Thai restaurant to pick up some take-out for dinner later on, making my double-Thai birthday extra-special!
Of course, the best part of my birthday (and every day, for that matter) is spending time with my wonderful cat-kids: Gary, Mitzki, Petey, and Jason.
Thanks again everyone for all your support and good wishes! xo
6/27/14 Update: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!
In honor of my birthday today, I’m giving YOU a gift: the gift of 150 easy and delicious recipes in the form of my latest book, More Quick-Fix Vegan. The giveaway is for today only — so enter now! Just leave a comment at the end of this post to enter. I will announce a winner right back here tomorrow.
Happy Birthday to me — and good luck to you in the giveaway!
If you’re looking for a great gift for Dad this Father’s Day, how about a homemade treat? This Blueberry-Chocolate Trail Mix Bark from my book, More Quick-Fix Vegan is super-easy to make and because it’s made with nuts, fruit, pretzels, and chocolate, it hits all the right snack buttons: a little sweet, a little salty, a little chewy, a little crunchy — this stuff has it all! Plus, Dads love gifts that you make yourself — especially when they taste this good. (Of course Father’s Day is only one reason to make this treat — there are 364 other reasons each year when it would also be a good idea!)
Blueberry-Chocolate Trail Mix Bark
Yield: about 30 pieces
A new spin on old-fashioned almond bark, this version is the stuff dreams are made of. That is, if you dream about chocolate, nuts, pretzels, and blueberries! This recipe is from More Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. (photo by Zsu Dever)
Note: If dried blueberries are unavailable, or just for a variation, you can substituted dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, or other dried fruit in equal measure.
12 ounces vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, pistachios, almonds, or a combination
1 1/2 cups thin salted pretzel sticks, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped dried blueberries
Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with waxed paper.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Spread the mixture evenly, smoothing out the top as much as possible. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Invert the bark onto a cutting board and peel off the waxed paper. Cut the bark into pieces.