Monday, July 18, 2016

Welcome to the Surface of the Sun...

Happy Monday! I don't much care for Mondays, but that doesn't stop them from coming. It's been a pretty typical one, with me making lists, goals, and plans - then getting to round-about-3pm and realizing there 'aint no way I'm getting this all done. Lol. Like I said, typical.

Hope ya'll are staying cool. We've been running the AC like crazy. I don't even want to think about the bill. Our area has had way too many triple digit days and there's no end in sight. Haven't even had a good monsoon yet. People like to say, "oh, but it's a dry heat, right?". Sure. Sure it is. Dry heat like opening the oven door when it's set on broil - you know, singe your eyebrows and nose hair kinda heat. But yeah, it's dry. Lol.

Recipes around here lately have been pretty simple - light & fresh meals that can be put together in a snap. It's too darn hot for anything else. Mostly salad based dinners... topped with rotisserie chicken and chopped veggies, or taco meat and black beans... that kind of thing. Tonight's dinner is a twist on the recipe I shared last week - Summer Steak Tart. I'm swapping out the steak for rotisserie chicken, exchanging the feta for manchego and pecorino cheeses. I'll share the results tonight.

One thing I've had a serious hankering for lately is spaghetti squash. Haven't seen any in my local stores. And the ones I planted have stubbornly refused to bear fruit. Buggers. Speaking of my garden...

It's summer. And it's hot. Ugh. Next summer I'm planning to utilize some garden shading - not sure yet what exactly that will entail, but losing crops makes me mad. I never did get fruit out of my Armenian cucumbers - the vines are still growing, but I think they're about done. I got quite a bit out of my regular cucumbers, and my tomatoes were an absolute triumph - still are, in fact. I'm harvesting cherry tomatoes every day. The cabbage and cauliflower went to seed while we were in England, but I left them in the garden because they were pretty, lol.

Now I've got pumpkins, cantaloupe, and watermelon all struggling to produce in two of the beds. A third has my second batch of corn that hasn't made it to maturity (seriously irritating). I've cleaned out and amended another bed and replanted using the three-sisters method (corn, green beans, and squash all together).  Haven't had a lot of luck with any of those crops, so maybe lumping them together is the trick.

I've also seeded a few empty sections with more fun stuff... broccoli, cilantro, dill, more peanuts, more peppers. I'm sunflower crazy, so I've also sowed a bunch more of those, including in the front yard around the big Fir tree. I had tried to do this several weeks ago... dug a little trough all around the tree, laid in fresh soil, put in my seeds. And the all came up! I was so excited and couldn't wait for them to grow and bloom. Then the guy who mows our lawn came. Yep. He ran them all over. I may have shed a few tears. So... I went out and got some little fencing and did it all again. Lol. You can see they're popping up. Woohoo! My pumpkins and watermelon seedlings in the front yard are also doing great. Maybe I'll get something out of those since the ones in the backyard are giving me fits.

My herbs are going crazy! I've got lemon basil, sweet basil and thai basil that have all thrived beyond my expectations. It's awesome!! My oregano was doing really good until this week, drat. I've got nice strong tarragon, savory, and parsley, though I'm hoping to get more of the first two. Seeds are in, so we'll see. My carrots are poking their shoulders up, and my peppers are all doing well. My favorite part of the day is picking a pepper for my breakfast omelet :-) I've got several different varieties, so it's fun to play with them all. I have discovered I prefer red jalapeno's over green ones. Lol. They're hotter.

The pups are doing great. I've been working with Loki in the pool - he loves to be held while in the water, and he loves to swim, but he still won't get in on his own. Weirdo. Hunter on the other hand...

Lol!! He adores that thing! And so far, hasn't been able to bite through it! Yay! Once Loki decides to venture in on his own, I'll get another floaty for him. This is the one I bought from amazon and it's really great.

Life has been as crazy as usual for our family. We've got a lot of things going on. Some days I manage to keep all the balls I'm juggling in the air. Some days not so much, lol. But hopefully this week brings us good news on a couple different fronts. Cross your fingers for us ;-)

Signing off - me and the guy "helping" me write this post. Lol.
Yes... he's laying on the keyboard. What a goober.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Recipe!!! Spectacular Summer Steak Tart

OMG - you guys... this tart is unbelievable! I've been playing around with recipes that let me use my garden veggies and herbs... recipes that are quick and easy... recipes that help alleviate the ridiculous heat (been averaging 111 all week). A month or more into summer, we're a wee bit tired of salads (though I've got plans and ideas to liven those up, too!), so I started experimenting with tarts.

Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of tarts, I visualize those gorgeous little baked delicacies piled high with seasonal fruit. That, however, is not what this is. Lol.  Today's recipe is a savory tart. And let me tell you... it's phenomenal! The hubby went back for more. Twice. SOOOO GOOD!!!! Several times he told me just that. And he wasn't lying. I'm considering making it again for dinner tonight. Because... I need better photos. Good excuse, right? ;-)

You can play around with the recipe. Use different veggies, cheeses, herbs, proteins... Make it your own! Another important note... I chose to use full fat yogurt & cheeses - you can significantly cut the calories and fat by using fat free yogurt and reduced fat cheese (or reduce the amount of cheese). Your choice. Have fun with it!

Summer Steak Tart

"This is a fabulous way to use those fresh summer veggies! With a greek yogurt base on puff pastry, it's layers and layers of veggies, herbs, and proteins! Easy to prepare ahead of time, too! "
Healthy Summer Veggie and Steak Tart Recipe
Serves 6
Prep Time:
Cook Time:


  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt, full fat*
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 3 Tbsp parmesan, fresh grated
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground (more to taste)
  • 1 very small eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or sliced
  • 3 oz grilled, lean steak (I used leftovers from a previous meal)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme*
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano*
  • 1/2 tsp fresh basil*
  • 6 large eggs, raw
  • 3 Tbsp crumbled feta



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Thaw 1 sheet of puff pastry and place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Roll it out smooth.
  3. Gently turn up and roll the edges into a small crust.
  4. Finely chop the herbs, then divide in half.
  5. Thinly slice, then dice the cooked steak. Set aside.
  6. Thinly slice the eggplant and red pepper. Halve or slice the tomatoes.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together greek yogurt, milk, parmesan and a sprinkle of sea salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Pour mixture into the center of the pastry and spread evenly.
  9. Layer veggies over the yogurt mixture.
  10. Sprinkle half the herbs over the tart.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until veggies are softened and pastry crust is mostly cooked. Remove from oven.
  12. Evenly spread the steak over the tart.
  13. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp crumbled feta over the top.
  14. With a spoon, create six wells evenly over the tort. Make them deep and wide enough to contain an egg.
  15. Crack an egg carefully into each well.
  16. Sprinkle the remaining herbs.
  17. Add a touch more sea salt and cracked pepper over the top.
  18. Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes - until pastry is no longer raw and eggs reach desired doneness. I prefer soft set - whites fully cooked, yolks soft).
  19. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  20. Slice into 6 pieces.
  21. Serve.

Nutritional Information

Amount Per Slice  Calories: 290 | Total Protein: 15 g | Total Carbohydrate: 22 g | Total Fat: 17 g | Total Fiber: 3 g | Total Sodium: 410 mg 

*To prepare ahead, after the first baking, allow tart to cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to finish. When ready, preheat oven, add the steak, feta, eggs, and herbs. Continue as per the recipe.
***Herbs - I used fresh herbs from my garden (the veggies, too!), but you can certainly use dried if that's what is available.
    Clean Eating Summer Veggie Steak Tart

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Monday, June 20, 2016

The Fires of Hades Have Arrived

Seriously, ya'll. It's freaking HOT. The hubs and I were running errands yesterday and snapped this...
Yep. You read that right... 120 degrees.  And, it actually went up from there. We topped out yesterday at 122. Way too darn hot. I made the mistake of trying to do some damage control in the garden during the afternoon - just a bit of water at the roots of my wilting plants... and wow. That heat.  Almost took me down. While we Arizonians joke about our summers, the dangers of the heat just aren't funny. We actually had 3 hikers and 1 mountain biker die yesterday in this heat. And they weren't unprepared or unfit - it's scary.

Back to the garden... it's still doing great! My basil has become a forest, I'm still harvesting tomatoes each day. I've got cucumbers and tomatoes, beets and turnips, several kinds of peppers. My eggplant is nearing harvest (they're so pretty!). The watermelon and pumpkins are doing great - I even planted more out in the front yard - thought it'd be a cool thing when they're ready to harvest - the kids in the neighborhood can pick their own pumpkins!


The puppies are doing great! Growing like crazy. They bring us so much joy! Hunter is a big water baby - he loves to jump in and just swim in circles around the pool. He also has a thing for the float - he can chill in that for long periods of time. It's so darn cute. Loki still hasn't decided to chance the pool, though he's getting more and more curious as he watches his brother splash and play. Hopefully we'll get him in soon.

Food around here has been dictated by the weather, lol. Lots of light & crisp meals - chicken salad w/veggies, stir-fry, that sort of thing. Quick and easy, light and flavorful. I've also been testing out another delivery service - Freshly. My subscription is 12 meals a week (3 dinners for three people, and 3 breakfasts). The convenience cannot be beat - fully cooked meals, delivered in a refrigerated box, and you microwave them when you need them... two minutes from fridge to table. Drawback is that the entree's don't really have a lot of flavor. That said, the breakfasts are incredible!!!! Omelettes, quiche, frittata... so yummy! I've got one more week of subscription (should arrive today), then it's back to my normal weekly food prep. Lol. The hubby is ready to have my food full time again. ;-)

Workouts have been going well. Had to switch over to Pilates for my last session since I so gracefully sliced open my heel (ugh).  Finally went and had the doctor look at it and the bugger was infected. A very painful exam and more painful tetanus shot later, it's finally on the mend. Today I will be attempting to wear gym shoes for the first time in a week. Wish me luck! Lol.

This summer, along with the insane heat, we've got lots of activity and travel. Already we have traveled up to California for my nephew's graduation party, to visit the kids in San Diego, and next month we've got a wedding, followed by another in September, with a couple trips to San Diego in between. In addition, we're shaking things up at home - one kiddo moving out on her own in July, another moving back in September. Lol. Plus lots of work changes for the hubby. It's super stressful for him, but I'm so proud of where he is, what he's built, and the opportunities that are opening for him.

So... there's my update. Hope ya'll are staying cool!