One Hot Summer Side & One Cold

I just want to first take a minute to thank all of my readers.  Though this blog is new and I’ve really only just started out, I’ve received many compliments from my family, my friends and even some of my “Facebook friends” with whom I rarely communicate.  For you to take the time to go out of your way and let me know that you read my blog (and actually like it!) really means the world to me.  I truly appreciate your kind words and hope that you continue to read and enjoy it!  Thanks so much.

My running route this morning was one I’ve never before  traveled and it happened to be the most scenic one I’ve been on – a 6 mile quiet loop with lots of farms and greenery to look at.  I ran into a ton of animals, too!!

Wild Animal Counter:

Bunnies: 1

Deer: 4

Turkeys: A family of a mommy, daddy and 9 tiny babies!!

The whole time I kept thinking about how I should have brought my camera on the run with me.  I can’t help but absolutely love running on country, hilly routes vs loud city ones.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy visiting Mike’s and my parents so much!

Yesterday morning I ran my longest route ever!  It was 7.11 miles and was completed in 71 minutes.  Thankfully, the weather was more comfortable than it has been all week – 68 degrees – which was glorious compared to the 82 degree morning I ran in a couple days ago!!  I find that even when the air is thick and humid, once I get into a steady groove and pace, I could run a lot further than I give myself credit for.

My Saturday was spent lounging by the pool at my in-laws while Keira and Mike swam all day.  I’m not a huge fan of the pool… even when it’s super hot out.  I’d rather lay out for a little while with a magazine and dip inside the air-conditioned house every now and then for a break from the heat.  Keira, on the other hand, is part fish.  Or maybe she’s all fish because she could have stayed in that pool until the sun went down.  It wore her out and she slept like a log last night!!

Since Borders is going out of business everything at my local Borders is marked down super duper cheap.  I had a gift card with only a few dollars left and it so I figured I’d go check it out and grab something just to use it up.  I left with two Vegetarian Times magazines.  On the cover of one was a picture of beautiful stuffed tomatoes.  I immediately thumbed through the mag to find that recipe.  It sounded so delicious that my mother-in-law went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients for us to make it as a side dish to go with dinner.

Here’s the cover of the magazine that caught my eye:


On the cover you’re looking at feasting your eyes on the Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes… how gorgeous do those babies look?!

Here’s how to make them:

8 large beefsteak tomatoes (we used the tomatoes on the vine)

2 large eggs

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp. plus 4 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup diced zucchini plus 24 very thin zucchini slices (we used yellow summer squash)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice tops off tomatoes and scoop pulp out of centers to make stuffable tomato shells; set aside.  Discard half of tomato pulp; remove seeds from and finely chop remaining half of pulp.

2.  Whisk together eggs and ricotta in medium bowl until smooth.  Add red onion, basil, 2 tbsp. Parmesan, garlic, corn, diced zucchini, and chopped tomato pulp; stir until combined.

3.  Fill each tomato just to top with 1/2 cup ricotta mixture, then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. Parmesan, followed by 3 suzzini sliced and tomato top.  Place in large baking dish.  (Note: we placed them all in a cupcake tin so they wouldn’t topple over.  Genius idea by my mother-in-law if you ask me).

4.  Bake 45 minutes, or until filling is puffed up and tops are browned.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  To freeze for later:  Cool stuffed tomatoes completely, then place in foil-lined baking pan.  Wrap tightly in foil, then in plastic wrap, and freeze.  When ready to eat, thaw tomatoes completely.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, 20-30 minutes, or until filling is hot.

These tomatoes were such a big hit at the dinner table.  The only thing I would change about this dish is that I would season the ricotta mixture with some salt and pepper.  Everyone at the table ended up salting and peppering their tomatoes and so I feel like next time I make these (and trust me, there will be plenty more times) I will season the cheese mixture right after everything is combined.

On last night’s dinner plate:  spaghetti squash, ricotta-basil stuffed tomato and Cold French Lentil Salad.

That’s right – we whipped up another recipe found in the same magazine.  This salad was cold, refreshing and absolutely delicious despite our initial misgivings about the combination of ingredients.  It’s definitely a keeper!

Cold French Lentil Salad


1 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed (we used one 15-oz can of black beans in place of the lentils)

1 bay leaf (we didn’t have any in the house and so we omitted this entirely)

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. dried dill

3 celery stalks, finely diced (1 cup)

1 cup peeled and diced cucumber

1/3 cup finely diced fennel bulb

1/2 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup diced white onion


1.  Bring lentils, bay leaf, and 3 cups water to a boil in saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.  Drain, remove bay leaf, and cool.  (Obviously we didn’t do this step – Instead we drained and rinsed the can of black beans and threw them in the mixing bowl!)

2.  Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and dill in bowl.  Stir in lentils, celery, cucumber, fennel, corn, and onion.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

It went so well with everything else on my plate.  The spaghetti squash and stuffed tomato were hot and steamy while the lentil (bean!) salad was cold, crunchy and refreshing.

Both these recipes were easy to put together and absolutely delicious.  I can’t wait to make them over and over again the rest of the summer.  Enjoy!


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