Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research to get better at food photography (which is so much harder than I ever thought it could be), and trying out new apps. Well, after I made this salad, I attempted to take some pics, and as soon as I got back to my computer, it turned out I had no idea how to use my chosen app, and all of those pics I thought I took didn’t even save.

Luckily, this recipe is really simple, and I only feel like I should share it because 1) there’s a mega heatwave and no-bake foods are so necessary 2) it’s sorta unusual.

So, here’s your sad pic that saved.

And here’s your recipe for a summer harvest fruit salad:

Summer Harvest Fruit Salad

What You Need:

1 ripe watermelon (cut in bite sized cubes or us a melon baller)

1 carton yellow tomatoes

1 carton blueberries

3 handfuls of spinach (optional)

What You Do:

Wash and mix toss together

If using spinach, I also added some salt and black pepper because why not?

 

Now, there aren’t any confusing or tricky parts to this except for choosing a ripe watermelon. If you were fortunate, like I was this time around, then save the excess juice from your watermelon. I had some cinnamon basil on hand so I muddled the juice with the herb, then added two parts vodka, one part juice/herbs, and one part water (or soda water). And voila! A fresh, nameless summer drink to go with your salad.

Messiness: Cutting fruit can get messy, which is why I opted to just use a melon baller. Also, it helped keep the watermelon juice nicely in the hollowed half so I could pour it into my drink.

Budget: As usual, I got all of these ingredients (minus the vodka) at the 99 Cent store, but in general these shouldn’t cost too much since everything is in season.

Simplicity: Are you ready to do the easiest thing you’ll do all day? Cool, then make this. :)

Deliciousness: I know what you’re thinking: Tomato? Really? Yes, really. These yellow ones are so sweet and juicy, they complement the fruity flavors well.

 

Sorry about the horrible, one picture. I’ll keep trying to improve… and any tips are welcome!

The other day I got a very disturbing email. It was a Christmas decor email, describing gifts that I can start making now… in July. Well, that made me realize even though I failed at getting in super good shape for summer, I now have a chance to get in excellent shape for Halloween!

So, I’m doing my best to eat healthy at all costs, no matter what.

This past Saturday, I’ll admit, I was struggling. And trying to get more protein in my diet (I’m a vegetarian) has shown me how little veggies I’m able to sneak in now. It’s a balancing act for sure. And when I was faced with a simple pasta or a tomato basil salad, I chose the tomatoes.

For this, it’s as easy as it gets. If you have 5 minutes (to wash the tomatoes) then you’re done

WHAT YOU NEED

1 package grape, cherry, or whatever tomatoes you have on hand (halved if you want)

A few basil leaves

Salt (I used pink Himalayan because it’s what was around)

Balsamic vinegar

Feta, parmesan, mozzerella, or string cheese (that’s what I used)

 

WHAT YOU DO

Put the washed tomatoes in a bowl

Tear or cut the basil leaves

Add salt to taste

Top with Balsamic vinegar and whatever cheese you want to use

I’ve been slacking again on blogging. My b. But I’m hoping my explanation will make it all worth it.

As some of you may know, I published my first novel last November, and ever since, people have been asking me what my next one will be. Well, the idea struck me a few months back, to write a short story compilation. This is for several reasons. One is that I personally love short stories and love writing them, and studies have shown that readers are trending that way, so I’m not alone. Another reason was that I honestly can’t pump myself up to sit down and write another novel right now. I know everyone’s life is busy, but mine is at a point where mentally I don’t even know if I can write something longform that’s worth someone’s time.

So, I decided to have fun, and hope other people can have fun too!

My next book is a collection of short stories, entitled I’m Terrified of Everything, It will be a compilation of stories that I’ll release individually and digitally every week. When they’re all completed, I’ll put them together into Volume 1 of book, which will have both physical and digital copies.

So, without further adieu, here is the first book in the series, The Woods Are Calling: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011Q27BMA?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I hope you have as much fun with it as I did with writing it.

 

A couple of posts ago, I revealed one of my worst habits to you: buying produce and not using it all. Every single week, without fail it happens; I start out with the best intentions to eat well and not be lazy, but it just goes awry.

This week, add to that the fact that the basil I’ve been growing was going through the STRUGGLE! So, I quickly plucked some of the not-too-floppy leaves and decided to get less lazy and more creative.

I’ll give you the step-by-step instructions, since I know that can be helpful, but I’ll add some notes throughout in case your veggies on-hand were a bit different than mine. Can’t wait to hear how yours comes out!

‘BEFORE IT GOES BAD’ PASTA

What You Need (aka What I Had On-Hand)

2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes (or 1 container from the store)

2 red peppers (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (minced)

1/3 bag of angel hair pasta

handful of fresh basil

2 TBSP olive oil (maybe more)

lots of fresh Parmesan cheese

1 TBSP Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Salt, black pepper, crushed red peppers (all optional and according to your taste preferences)

 

What You Do:

Start cooking the pasta in a pot (NOTE: I used angel hair pasta because it’s what I had. You can use anything)

While it’s cooking, in a small skillet, warm up the olive oil on medium-low flame and add garlic

Add chopped peppers after about 2 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t get too brown. The goal here is to flavor the oil, which will be your sauce. If the veggies soak up too much of the oil, definitely add more! (NOTE: I didn’t have any onions or shallots, but those would also be great to add at this stage if you have some). Stir occasionally, and let cook for about as long as the pasta takes, unless the garlic begins to get really brown, then you’re done.

While all of this is cooking, halve the tomatoes, wash and julienne the basil so it’s ready to go. (NOTE: use fresh Parmesan cheese so it melts thanks to the hot pasta and sauce)

Once the cooking is done, combine everything and enjoy!

 

Messiness – The cutting board, one pot and one small skillet are the only equipment needed, though that is more than just one bowl, so I’m not sure if I’d say this isn’t messy, but it’s certainly not something that will destroy your kitchen.

Simplicity – Super simple! All of the prep is done in stages while other things are cooking. It may seem a little involved, but you’re done within 30 minutes, and I had enough to take to work for three days worth of lunches. Also, nothing is terribly difficult to where you need to pay lots of attention to it.

Budget – It’s as expensive as the ingredients you already bought, or want to buy. As with most of my recipes, olive oil is the most expensive part, but even with how much I use it, one bottle usually lasts me for months.

Delicousness – Pasta, cheese, veggies, and a garlicky sauce… I’m not sure what else I could want out of a fresh lunch!

 

I tell a lot of people about quinoa because, well, it’s amazing! But for some reason this “grain” really intimidates people.

So, today I’m here to tell you to STOP BEING SCARED OF QUINOA! If you can boil a pot of pasta, you can make quinoa (and if you can’t boil a pot of pasta, we have bigger problems).

I looked around for a video that would not only tell people about the benefits of quinoa but also how to cook it, since that seems to be the biggest issue.

Sometimes I swap out water for a broth, depending on what I’m cooking, but if you’re just making a batch to help get you through the week with a little extra protein and nutrients, then you’re good to go!

Take a look at this video, and if you still need some extra guidance GO HERE.

Let me know how it goes, and we’ll start cooking with this seed more often!

I love this blog and my readers for so many reasons. Too many to list, but mostly for the sake of understanding. I have restarted and abandoned Ramblings more times than I can count. Sometimes I thought it was for good, but then I’d get encouragement to keep blogging, so I’d start back up again.

Over the last few months, my life has changed in lots of ways. Great ways, but lots of changes, resulting in a lack of time to give heartfelt blogs, let alone COOK! But I gave myself a pep-talk and reminded myself of what’s really important in this life (aside from the ‘golden rule’ of course): Our HEALTH! We only have this one body, and we should strive to take care of it as much as possible.

Now, don’t think that I’m jumping in with both feet and cleaning out all of the possibly GMO foods in my cupboard. I’m not an all-or-nothing person. I’m a person who just strives to make good decisions and to be the best person I can. But I know that sometimes  I want Popsicles or McDonald’s french fries. That said, one large fry a week isn’t going to kill me, and I’m learning that as long as I focus very hard on my health as a whole, everything will be just fine.

So, with all of this said, I’m going to strive to help everyone out with #MeatlessMonday recipes as often as possible (and hopefully more, but I’m learning to not put too much on my plate). I don’t judge meat eaters at ALL, I just know that I can’t afford expensive meat regularly, so, I’ve chosen to go with no meat. That’s my choice, and you are completely free to make yours (that’s why I also try to include options for meat lovers!).

And if you do make these recipes, I’d LOVE to hear about it! Tweet me pics @NatalieSaar and let me know how it goes!

Blessings

 

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Cooking can be intimidating, especially when it isn’t something you normally do, but I promise, if you have a few tricks up your sleeve, you can make something delicious out of almost anything.

This is a good example.

I was hungry, and had lots of random veggies I’d bought because they had a good price. Well, I didn’t end up using them all and I hate to see things go to waste. So, I chopped them up and threw them in a covered skillet.

The catch? I special trick I learned not too long ago. Wash the spinach, and use the water still on it to steam it. Keep it covered for about 5 minutes and it’s done. Super easy!

Then, just add some cooked pasta, other chopped veggies you may have lying around, and mix them together with your favorite sauce.

Nothing goes to waste and you have a healthy dinner!

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