Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Here comes the Heat!

Well we are going to hit 100 degrees this week and that means that summer is beginning to unpack her bags for the long stay here in the valley. I have been preparing the house with some insulated curtains and training the husband to have all windows closed by 10am. But I fear that our A/C-less summer will not be as easy as we hope it to be. I suppose that I should explain the reason for such an insane action as AZ without A/C. We purchased our first home in Oct 2006, closed on November 18th and found out November 20th that DJ's employer (Wild Oats Market) was closing all the Henry's Farmers Markets, which Wild Oats owns, in AZ December 17th. So the management job that had nice pay dissolved before we were even moved in to the house. He was able to find a job with Fry's Foods (owned by Kroger) but back in the meat department as a cutter/clerk for less money with the hope of moving to front end management again in the future. Therefore our budget was altered radically so we could keep the house and some of the first things that were released from the monthly expenses were all forms of entertainment, extra electricity, and non-essential foods (I have been trying to feed us for $100/month). So far we have been blessed to make ends meet through the grace of God and much praying along with some very wonderful parents. We never should have made it since we have incurred $800 in hospital bills from Jan to April due to my new found asthma and the conflict that causes with my strong desire to be able to breathe. So hence my thought to share no-cook cool summer foods that are also easy on both the budget and waistline. WooHoo! So this week I have posted a salad, soup and dessert to make up for my lack of posting last week. Happy Eating!

Mexican Chicken Salad
3 cups cooked cubed chicken
15 oz. can corn, drained
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 cup oil and vinegar salad dressing
Salad Greens
Combine all ingredients except salsa, cilantro and salad dressing and toss gently. Combine salsa, cilantro and salad dressing in small bowl and drizzle over chicken mixture. Toss to coat. Cover and chill for 1-3 hours to blend flavors. Toss then serve over salad greens.
Serves 8

Gazpacho is a chilled vegetable soup perfect for summer entertaining.
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups vegetable cocktail juice
garlic croutons or sour cream for garnish
In a large glass bowl, combine all ingredients except croutons and shrimp and mix gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to blend flavors. Serve chilled, topped with croutons or a dollop of sour cream.
Serves 6

Strawberries with Cream Cheese Filling
These pretty strawberries are cut to resemble flower petals then stuffed with sweetened cream cheese.
32 fresh whole strawberries, large
11 to 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons semisweet or milk chocolate, grated
Cut a thin slice from the stem end of each strawberry, allowing the berries to stand upright on flattened end. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. Cut each berry carefully into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, bottoms.
Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break; set berries aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and almond extract until light and fluffy. Gently fold in grated chocolate. Using a teaspoon or decorating bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries. If desired, sprinkle with a little more grated chocolate. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Makes about 32 filled strawberries.


Amie said...

Wow, you are very disciplined!! Good luck with the A/C thing...have you lived here during a summer before? Eat lots of ice, lol! Looks like some great recipes. I just wanted to say that you're doing great on your food budget. When I was single, I spent $20/wk...when we got married, we doubled it. With each new child, we've added another $20/week. So you're definitely got me beat. It's tough, but it's possible. Best of luck!!