light, fresh, nutritious. everything a summer meal should be, right? this salad reminds me a lot of my last recipe (chicken & orzo salad with herb lemon vinaigrette or orzo stuffed peppers) but it’s meat free and packed with protein. it’s equally customizable, though. if i had a vegetable garden out back, i imagine i’d throw together whatever i picked fresh (zucchini, peppers, squash, tomatoes, peas, etc.) with whatever whole grain i had on hand at the time.
i cooked up a big batch of this salad and ate it a different way almost every day - once as a side with dinner, once as a quick snack from the fridge, another time for lunch on a bed of spinach (GBG = greens, beans & grains!).
1/2 c. quinoa (uncooked)
one can cannelini beans (15.5 oz)
1 small summer squash, shredded
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 large cucumber, diced
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
3-4 fresh basil leaves
done with the collecting? time for the doing!
first thing’s first: get your quinoa cooking and wash those veggies.
follow the instructions on your box of quinoa, but in case you bought in bulk or want to know the quick rule of thumb with this great grain, just remember this: 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. dump it all in a pot, bring to a boil and then let it simmer until all of the water is absorbed. easy peasy!
next up, rinse your beans (until there’s no white foamy bubbles - that’s how you’ll know you’ve gotten rid of some of the salt!) and chop/grate/dice/slice those veggies. i shredded the zucchini because i like the texture and vinaigrette-soaking abilities. i diced up the tomatoes/pepper/cuke, as well, and did a quick chiffonade (rolling and slicing into a ribbon) with the fresh basil.
throw all that into a big mixing bowl and in a smaller bowl, whisk together your oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. pour it on top of the veggies and quinoa in the big bowl and toss everything together.
and just. like. that. you’re done! enjoy it and soak up the last month of summer :)
click here for a printable version of the recipe!
summer = relaxing + traveling. relaxing + traveling are not always in line with blogging. oops! even so, i can’t fall off the wagon with reminding myself of all the great things i have to be grateful for, so even though it’s mid-july, here are some highlights from june!
i’ve always considered myself more of a spring/fall person, but this summer’s kicking a lot of butt. it’s making me a summertime convert, i think.
1) the first weekend of june, whit and i headed to newport, which blahblahblah you’ve already heard about. one of my favorite things about new england is the ability to visit all different cities/states in such close proximity. sometimes i like using my off-days as free passes to be lazy, do laundry and catch up on sleep. buuuut this summer has been full of day trips, visits with friends and lots of productivity.
2) the following weekend, i did MY FIRST 5K! if you asked me six months ago if i would ever participate in one, i would have laughed at you. i loved the feeling of crossing the finish line and once this summer humidity breaks, i can’t wait to train for a few more in the fall. also, the best part: it was for a good cause, benefiting the connecticut children’s medical center.
3) morgan and dave came into town for morgy’s birthday and i got to celebrate with them at barcelona in west hartford. i love having friends so close you’re just part of their family.
4) i got to celebrate my favorite mama-to-be, janelle, and her bundle of joy (can’t wait to meet him!) at two great showers. i still can’t believe one of my friends is going to have a BABY, but i’m so, so excited to meet him and had a blast at both showers. i’m surprisingly good at shower games!
5) we enjoyed father’s day in NYC with a trip to the bronx zoo, miss ally bo’s performance, a verrrryyyy filling italian dinner in manhattan and some gorgeous weather in the city that never sleeps. i love, love, loved the little monkeys that picked fleas off each other ha!
6) i wouldn’t consider myself a GIGANTIC rascal flatts fan, but i went to their concert this year and it was SO. FUN. it surprised me how many songs i knew of theirs (all but one or two!), considering i’m not a diehard fan. the weather was perfect and it felt sort of straight out of a movie when they started singing summer nights. cheesy, i know.
other than that, i enjoyed some family time with visits from floridian cousins and trips to the golf course with my cousins adam & joel. i got to see all of my favorite hockey east folks when they came to announce uconn’s invitation to the league. i volunteered at a sports clinic for kids and finally got some sunkissed skin. i can’t believe summer’s halfway over, but july’s got some equally fantastic things in store, including TWO (!) trips to the cape, hopefully meeting the baby (!!), another visit to la ciudad and some kitchen adventures.
hope you’ve got lots of fun, relaxing things going on this summer, too :)
16. When eating finger foods, use the hell out of your dipping sauce, and don’t be bashful. It’s much better to be out of BBQ sauce and have chicken nuggets than vice versa.
this isn’t a very timely recap since i went to newport like three weeks ago… but just because i’ve been slacking doesn’t mean i should forget the trip entirely! so let’s see…
you might remember that i took a daytrip to newport, rhode island for my birthday at the end of march. it was a bit chilly, but such a great day - blue skies, restaurant week and fun with my mom. i was chatting with my friend whitney that day and she was saying she hadn’t been to newport in years and years and would LOVE to go. right then, we planned a quick girls weekend for the first weekend in june and we counted down the hours.
only issue… june = wedding season. newport = wedding location. weekend = wedding time. ergo… june weekend in newport = nearly impossible to find a hotel. the big staples were all booked, some of the b&b’s looked quite creepy and the upscale boutique hotels required a minimum two-night stay at about $450-600 a night. (no thanks.) instead of driving 35 minutes and paying a hefty toll back and forth over the jamestown bridge, i found an affordable hotel right in middletown (about 3 miles from the center of town in newport) - easy peasy!
on our trip, we visited a couple of the mansions, indulged in cupcakes and froyo (on different days, don’t worry) and had some great seafood. it was a perfect quick trip and we really lucked out with the weather on the second day. of course i didn’t quite luck out with the car issues i had during our last couple of hours in town, but i’ll get to that later.
here’s a little known fact that can save you some money when you visit the newport mansions: when you buy a pass for one or two mansions, that ticket can be upgraded at a lower price at any point within the next year. example: my mom and i bought a two-mansion ticket on my birthday and whit and i wanted to check out two mansions. instead of buying a new two-mansion ticket for $24, we were able to upgrade my original tickets (which i held onto) to a 4+ mansion ticket ($31 value) for just an extra $7. make sense? i thought so! i’m so glad i hung onto the tickets because i ended up saving us $34! such a bargain.
this trip, whit and i visited marblehouse and the elms (i went to the breakers and rosecliff with my mom in march). the mansions are so beautiful and fun to tour without it feeling boring and museum-ish.
eats & treats
we visited cupcake charlie’s on our first day and split a few of the cupcakes (didn’t finish them all, though. womp womp). clockwise starting top left: red velvet, chocolate mint, chocolate chip cookie, peanut butter cup. we didn’t realize until we were inside that cupcake charlie’s had been featured on food network’scupcake wars! what a ringing endorsement :)
since we all know how obsessed i am with self-serve froyo, we had to run into orange leaf (new to me, but they’re all over the place!) on our second day after lunch. good thing we did so much walking to burn it off!
and yes, we did eat food OTHER than dessert while we were there. we had a quick lunch at yesterday’s when we first got to town (no pictures, but quesadilla for me and cranberry chicken sandwich for whit!)
that night, when we went downtown in our cutest outfits, we ended up at the black pearl tavern (which will always remind me of johnny depp and pirates of the caribbean). we split a brie appetizer and both got scallops for dinner. too dark inside for pictures, but here we are outside the restaurant in our cutest summer dresses:
lastly, in between a boatload of shopping (so many shops downtown - a mix of regular retail stores like j. crew, banana republic and gap with fun touristy and boutique-y shops, as well), we had brunch outside on the water at the landing (wraps for all!). and yes, i’m serious when i say this was our weather and our view:
as we were heading out of town, my car started making some embarrassingly loud noises and i couldn’t figure out why. imagine whit and i in our cute sundresses, trying to politely crouch down to diagnose a car issue that we had no clue about. great visual.
a couple of very polite high school boys tried to help us out. here’s another visual: one of the boys put his bike down in front of my car and then crawled half under it off on the side of the road. EVERYONE that walked/drove by, stopped and gasped, staring angrily at me while they thought i RAN OVER THIS BOY. luckily that was not the case and he rigged up a temporary solution for me.
when i say temporary, i mean that it fell off four minutes later and i ended up having to call AAA. my oil pan cover or some-such-thing was dragging under my car and luckily he just ripped it off. you know, instead of my car being stranded in newport or me paying $3 a mile to get it towed 100 miles home…
i proceeded to drive 40mph home through torrential downpours until whit and i arrived in CT safe and sound. always and adventure…
overall, newport was an absolute blast and was a perfect way to kick off the summer. then again, i’ve visited during the holidays when the mansions were decorated for christmas and that was a blast, too. in short… newport is a great new england trip, no matter when you’ve got time to go!