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Life with Moxie: Summer blender recipe ideas

Lee Herald Favicon 16Summer here in Florida is truly as classic as summer can be. We have the palm trees, beaches, fresh fruit, convertibles, water sports, outdoor dining and live music. We also have beautiful warm summer evenings that we don’t want to spend hovering over a hot stove to have an amazing meal.

Here are a few simple and classic ideas to help give you a head start on your refreshing summer dining.

Classic Gazpacho

If any soup declares the beginning of summer, this is it.  Gazpacho has a very ancient history, starting in Mesopotamia as a soup of bread, garlic, water and olive oil, traveling to Spain where they added vinegar.  Having become a staple in Andalusian cuisine, tomatoes and salt were added.  Many modern-day variations supplement or replace the tomato, with watermelon, avocadoes and cucumbers. Original recipes fully pureed all ingredients, the following recipe is gleaned from the Portuguese tradition, as they use diced ingredients.

2 organic Hothouse cucumbers, seeded and chopped, or roughly 3 cups of other firm crisp cucumber
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 small organic tomatoes, preferably heirloom in assorted colors, seeded and chopped, if not, seeded and chopped plum tomatoes or a pint of grape tomatoes sliced in half.  Roughly 2 cups.
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 teaspoons)
4 cups organic tomato juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
1/2 tablespoon Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

As you prep the ingredients, keep adding them, together, into a large mixing bowl.  Once all ingredients are added, stir well, then remove roughly half the content and put it into a blender.  Gently pulse to finely chop but not puree.  Pour back into original bowl with balance of soup, stir well and season to taste.  Chill for at least 30 minutes to let flavors blend.

White Gazpacho

Fresh, bright, high in protein and only 7 ingredients.  Cucumbers are so light and fresh, this is a great addition to any summer menu, or alone as a quick, light, yet substantial snack.

3 Hothouse cucumbers (Organic!), seeded and peeled, or roughly 4 cups of other firm crisp cucumber
1 1/2 cups Marcona almonds (roasted unsalted regular almonds if you can’t find Marcona, use raw if that’s your preference)
1 cup seedless green grapes
2 fresh garlic cloves
1 scallion, minced, white part only
2 tablespoons olive or walnut oil
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Place all ingredients in a blender, and puree until smooth and uniform, season to taste.  Chill for at least an hour before serving.  Serve dressed with grapes (halved), toasted almond slivers and chopped chives.

Chilled fruit soup is not something that we are used to seeing regularly, for some- maybe never. However, I believe it should be a staple during summer. They are healthy, beautiful and refreshing. Many fruit soups aim for sweetness, made with orange juice and dessert spices such as cinnamon and clove. I personally prefer savory editions, thus am recommending this version for trial run.

Cantaloupe Soup

1 cantaloupe, peeled and seeded
Juice of 1 organic lime
Himalayan salt to taste
2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Cut cantaloupe in roughly 1-inch chunks. Place in a blender and process until the mixture is smooth. Add lime juice and a dash of salt, blend briefly and taste. Salt further as needed.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Once in poured into bowls drizzle a splash of balsamic vinegar atop of each.

Panzanella Salad

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from the lemon you zested)
Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper
3 pounds organic tomatoes. (Heirloom varieties offer the most color and flavor variety)
1 organic hothouse cucumber, skin on, seeded and cut into bite size pieces- if not organic, remove skin.
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
3 tablespoon capers
1 12 ounce loaf rustic, prairie, sourdough, etc. bread cut into half inch thick slices
1 clove garlic, halved

For dressing:

Blend at low speed 3/4 cup basil and 1/3 cup oil in a blender until small bits of basil are seen, not to puree.  Strain through fine-mesh strainer, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.  In a pinch I’ve poured into center of cheese cloth, pulled the corners together, and twisted until it was tight over the solids and kept twisting, like wringing out a towel.  Discard solids.  To liquid, add shallot, lemon zest and lemon juice, whisk to blend.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Dressing can be made up to a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.  Return to room temperature and re-whisk before using.

For Salad:

Cut tomatoes into bite-size shapes.  Place into large bowl, toss with dressing, let marinate for 30 minutes.  Take bread slices, brush with olive oil and rub with garlic.  Place in sauté pan, turning often, until nicely browned (or just toast if you tend to walk away).  After letting bread cool, tear into bite-sized pieces.  Add bread, remaining basil, cucumber, olives and capers to tomatoes.  Toss to coat, season with salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Classic Salsa

Salsa is summer. It’s easy, very refreshing, bright and so much better homemade.  Did I mention easy?  Can be used for the obvious, like dipping, but also to give a Mexican kick to the breakfast scramblers, veggie burgers, and potato skins.

4 large organic tomatoes (heirloom if you can get them), diced.
1 small white onion, diced
1-2 seeded jalapenos depending on the level of heat you’re seeking, start with just 1 if you’re unsure!
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
2 teaspoons lime juice

Mix all ingredients well in a medium bowl. Blend half of the quantity of salsa in a blender just slightly, then return to original bowl with remaining diced salsa, stirring to blend. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to give flavors a chance to meld and for it to get cold. For more color, add a diced yellow bell pepper. If you prefer super thick salsa, skip the blender.

Salsa Verde

The pureed, green and more lemony edition of traditional salsa.

1 pound tomatillos, cleaned
1/4 red onion, diced
1 larger clove garlic, chopped
2 poblano chilies, seeded
2 tablespoons cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
3 tablespoons white vinegar

Add all ingredients to large blender, in batches if needed, then transfer pureed mixture to saucepan.  Simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat, let cool.  Serve chilled.

Tzatziki

This Greek dill, cucumber and yogurt sauce has many uses, from gyros to dipping vegetables.  I will often make it with no other plans in mind other than to know it’s in the fridge, and it always gets used.

16-ounce plain unsweetened yogurt (I prefer Kite Hill Almond yogurt)
2 organic cucumbers, diced (I don’t skin mine, though it’s usually called for, I like the look and you don’t lose the nutrients in the skin, should be organic if you’re leaving the skin on though)
1/2 of a large or whole if smaller, lemon, juiced.
1 tablespoon fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried.
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients together in blender, blend until smooth and refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors meld. If you prefer a chunky edition, combine all ingredients in a bowl and only blend half the quantity.

No list of summer blender-based recipes would be complete without frozen cocktails.

Cocktails

There may be no more perfect base for a frozen summer cocktail than watermelon. Using frozen watermelon as your base means no more watered-down cocktails. Here are a few varieties to start you off.

Rum based
4 cups of cubed, frozen watermelon
1 lime juiced
1/2 cup (or 2 oz) rum

Vodka based
4 cups of cubed, frozen watermelon
1 cup lemonade
1 lime juiced
3 large leaves fresh mint
1/2 cup (or 2 oz) chilled vodka (from freezer)

  • Perfect as a virgin edition for kids sans vodka!

Prosecco based
4 cups of cubed, frozen watermelon
1 cup chilled Prosecco
1/2 cup (or 2 oz) chilled vodka (from freezer)

For each of these drinks, place all ingredients in blender and briefly blend until just smooth. Pour into glasses just removed from the freezer. Garnish with wedge of watermelon and mint springs.

Fresh Produce

Fresh from the garden ingredients can give us bright, gorgeous, nutrient-rich, refreshing additions to all of our meals. If you don’t have a garden started, container gardens are a perfect and economical way to get started, otherwise just head to one of our wonderful farmers markets. Every Saturday morning from 7:30 until 11:30 a.m., The Third Street Farmers’ Market, located behind Tommy Bahama’s in the parking lot at Third and Gordon Drive, overflows with fresh produce, cut and potted flowers, pastas, breads, cheeses, seafood, baked goods, prepared foods, jams, relishes as well as soaps, shell mirrors and palm frond baskets and hats. Music, coffee, dog treats, and many other delights make The Third Street Farmers Market perfect for the whole family. 7:30 am to 11:30 am every Saturday, all year.

Blenders

If you don’t have a blender, or you’ve been in need of a replacement, we at Life with Moxie have owned and recommend all of the following, you just need to determine your needs and how you will use it. Blenders come basically in two versions. The large lidded container version- best for cooking larger batch editions, and the single serve, portable editions (the “Bullet” versions)- great for those who cook smaller servings and are smoothie-to-go fans. My preferred choices of blenders include the best of the best VitaMix (yes, it’s totally worth the price if you will use it for all it offers), the coveted Ninja, the mid-priced NurtiBullet, slightly lower priced Magic Bullet, and the very economical Black & Decker.  All are sufficient for the above needs.

Summer has a way of reintroducing us to food in a different way and with months of warm, sun-filled days ahead, it’s time to change up our cooking habits to allow more time to enjoy our dining experiences while not heating up the house. After dinner…? Continue with the delights of food, family and romance with The hundred foot journey. Cheers to that with a frozen watermelon cocktail in hand!

Have ideas you’d like to add? Need more suggestions? Or want to share your experience? Let me know!

Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company www.lifewithmoxie.com, CEO of Moxie Creed www.moxiecreed.com, skincare beyond chemistry. You can reach her at Julie@lifewithmoxie.com

Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie


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