Peachy plum confetti cocktail

20110821-034732.jpg Cheers! And, happy Friday! I thought it appropriate to kick-off labor day weekend with a perfectly summery and festive cocktail. If you don't peel your fruit before blending, you not only retain it's fiber, you also create a little party in your drink glass with what looks like confetti from the fruit skin!

Toss 3 plums and 1 peach (just cut the fruit in half to remove pit), 2 large shots of Jim Beam, and a spoonful of simple syrup into a blender. Press button and pulverize. Pour beverage into a tumbler over several cubes of ice, top with a splash of San Pellegrino for a little fizz, and garnish with a lemon wedge. And...you have a refreshingly healthy cocktail (bet you thought you'd never hear the word healthy used to describe a cocktail, especially from a dietitian!) to toast the long weekend!

I'm going to take next week off from menu planning so I can enjoy my parents' visit. I do have a fun post planned mid-week, so don't be a stranger. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and week. Be back soon. xxo.

Quinoa with roasted vegetable (and a pre-dinner mojitos cocktail)

Am I the only one who hasn't been cooking with quinoa on a regular basis??! I've cooked with it several times previously, but its never been part of a regular rotation. I adore it...it's nutty flavor and fun texture adds a lot to a dish and it's incredibly simple to prepare. When I make it, I feel like I'm stepping it up a bit from brown rice or pasta, when really it's easier to cook than either of those foods!

20110730-021333.jpg About an hour before dinner, you will want to stick your chopped veggies into the oven to roast at 375 degrees. To toast to summer's lovely vegetable bounty, I roasted a pound of mini heirloom tomatoes, 4-5 small zucchinis, and 1 small onion. Cut all of the vegetables to about the same size so they roast evenly, toss with a coating of olive oil and some kosher salt. The vegetables will roast on their own so that you can enjoy the night outdoors, but I do recommend stirring once or twice during their hour of cooking for even browning.

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Before you head outside, make a round of mojitos. They don't exactly go with the dinner theme, but we had tons of fresh mint and, wow, they were good! Note: The simple syrup should be made earlier in the day so it has time to cool down. It will last for weeks in the refrigerator in a sealed container making future mojito or other cocktail nights even easier!.

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Fifteen minutes prior to eating, you will have to tear yourself away from the outdoors to start the quinoa. Add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until water is gone. Seriously. That's it!

Mix the quinoa into the roasting pan with the vegetables. Serve with some fresh summer fruit...we enjoyed it with figs and mangos. Oh, and you can add sparkling water to the mint and limes left behind in your mojitos glass for a refreshing and hydrating dinner beverage.

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A Mexican supper of fresh citrus margaritas and spicy black bean enchiladas

20110811-061619.jpgWe had friends over for a fun Mexican supper of avocado, mango, and lime guacamole, delicious Emerald Valley salsa (one of my new local obsessions), spicy black bean enchiladas, a yummy baked zucchini, onion, and tomato dish shared by our friend, citrus margaritas, and an ice cream and sorbet dessert with honey, pistachios, dark chocolate chips, and butter cookies.

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20110811-061631.jpg Besides the dessert, I think Jack and Johanna's favorite part of the meal was helping themselves to the chips and guacamole appetizer. Look how into it they are!

A note about the spicy black bean enchiladas, if you decide to make them (and I think you should, which is why I'm sharing the recipe and my notes!). They are probably perfectly yummy made as described by Andie, but I made a few tweaks. Of course, I used slow cooked black beans instead of canned and, then, skipped the sautéing of garlic and onion steps since I added those ingredients to the slow cooker. Also, I used a Walla Walla white onion instead of red, a can of regular diced tomatoes instead of fire roasted, and omitted the sugar and cilantro.

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20110811-061716.jpg Having a good time using the lawn mower to push each other.

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It was a fun evening and think we may have perfected this margarita recipe, making it our go-to. I'm already craving another round! Cheers and happy weekend!

20110810-020417.jpg Perfectly Citrus Margaritas Combine 1 1/2 cups of white tequila, 1 1/2 cups pulpy orange juice, the juice from 8 limes and 6 lemons, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 1/2 Blue Moon beers. Stir to combine. Add slices of lime to the glasses or pitcher for garnish. Pour over lots of ice and serve with a slice of red pepper, just because it's festive and pretty.