(BLOG POST ALERT: Be aware that there are THREE delicious summer recipes posted below, and --finally-- an update on my Excellent Experiment, even further below!)
Yep, I'm bringin' back succotash. Which begs the question, "Was succotash ever really here?", or perhaps the more pressing, "What in the Sam Hill IS succotash?" When I grandly introduced it to the fam tonight at the dinner table, my husband couldn't hold himself back from channeling his inner Sylvester the Cat: "Thufferin' Thuccotash!" he spontaneously erupted, surprising even himself, I think. My thirteen year-old just looked confused.
Turned out, though, this fresh and minimally-prepared side dish was a big hit. Succotash by definition is: "a simmered dish, primarily consisting of fresh corn kernels, together with lima beans (I didn't use these but substituted diced fresh zucchini)and tomatoes." And so, I happily offer up my EASY version of this southern favorite. It was unanimously delish. This is a perfect solution if you've got a couple of cooked ears of corn left over and/or if a friend has bequeathed you a fabulous zucchini from her garden. Each bite just bursts of fresh-fresh summer flavors.
2 large ears of raw corn, kernels cut off (if using cooked corn, see note below**)
2 medium zucchini, large-diced
2 medium tomatoes, large-diced
2 T. extra-light olive oil
1/2 cup purple onion, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
In large frying pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 2-3minutes, or until onion just begins to soften. Add raw corn and zucchini chunks, and continue to saute for four minutes or so, until just al dente. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper and cook another minute. If possible, serve in a white serving bowl on the table because the colors are so beautiful!
**If using pre-cooked corn, add at the end with the tomatoes.
Let's move on to Summer Recipe #2! My friend Holly introduced us all to this heavenly fresh peach pie a couple weeks ago while our families were vacationing together at Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho.
As is tradition, we always stop in Thorpe, WA on our way eastward to buy some local produce for our week at the lake. A must: a big box of fresh peaches. Halfway through the week, we started to panic because we needed to use the last third of the box quickly ... Holly saved the day and effortlessly whipped up this dessert. We cooks clamored for paper and pens to take down the recipe before we'd even swallowed our last bites. It's THAT good.
FREE BONUS: You need to know that Holly is pretty much the sweetest, nicest, kindest girl I've ever met. I'd like to think that when I make this "sweet" pie, a little bit of Holly-ness rubs off on me, and therefore you, too.
HOLLY'S FRESH PEACH PIE
1 - deep-dish (frozen) pie crust, baked
6-7 large, ripe, juicy peaches (or 9 medium - you want them heaped up in the middle)
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. lemon juice (this is the magical ingredient that prevents browning of cut fruit)
3 T. corn starch
2 T. butter
few drops pure almond extract (this is the secret to the pie ... don't omit)
Fresh, sweetened whipped cream
Peel and slice peaches in large bowl. Pour sugar and lemon juice over fruit. Stir gently, cover, and let set at room temperature for 1-2 hours. (This is called macerating, when the fruit + sugar + room temp = release of delicious juices)
Pour contents of bowl into colander over a large glass measuring cup. Add enough water to the peach juice to make one cup. (I haven't had to do this, as the peaches have produced exactly the right amount of juice) Pour cup of juice into small saucepan, add corn starch, and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly, allowing to slowly thicken. Cook until shiny and clear.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter, salt, and almond extract. Fold into peaches and heap into baked pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill thoroughly. (My advice: make this pie early in the day so it can refrigerate for a good 5-6 hours. The pie will really SET, and the pieces will serve much more nicely this way.) Serve with healthy dollops of fresh whipped cream.
SUMMER RECIPE #3. You may already be a master at BBQing ribs. I wasn't, but I am now thanks to my friend Jeri. Just a couple of her simple tips will help earn you rave reviews when you serve these to a hungry crowd. Try pairing these ribs with succotash (above), your favorite homemade potato salad, and pitchers of fresh strawberry lemonade. And Peach Pie for dessert, of course. The perfect summer feast!
4-5 lbs. country-style (bone-in or bone-out) pork ribs, defrosted
2 bottles of your favorite BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a disposable, deep, heavy-duty aluminum baking pan, pour a good amount of BBQ sauce into the bottom and spread around. Line up ribs next to each other in a single layer. Pour the rest of one bottle of BBQ sauce over ribs and distribute evenly with brush. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Preheat grill. Remove cooked ribs from pan and arrange on a serving platter. Open your second bottle of sauce and generously douse them once again. Transfer ribs to grill and cook just long enough to "finish" them: they are already cooked thoroughly, now you're just giving them slightly charred edges and that wonderful grilled flavor. While grilling, thoroughly wash and dry your serving platter, then transfer finished ribs back and serve with extra BBQ sauce on the side and lots of napkins. They will fly outta there, guaranteed.
And now, faithful friends, do any of you even remember my Excellent Experiment that I've been testing since February??! I had such great success those first few months by incorporating a new healthy way of eating and moving, and had (have) thirty less pounds to show for it. Now, as I come to the end of a summer full of exciting adventures and all of the good foods that go along with them, I have had a solid course in MAINTAINING the weight loss. (My Experiment is only half complete, though, and I'm glad I gave myself the target date of December 25 as my long-range weight-loss date. I will need these fall and early winter months to lose the next thirty pounds.) But back to MAINTENANCE ... here are a couple things I've learned this summer:
1. If I am looking for exercise opportunities during my week, and taking them, I have found that I can eat just about anything I want if I am careful about portions. That is key. In between training for and running the Ragnar Relay, preparing for the Young Women 20-mile walk to the Seattle Temple (next Saturday!), swimming and earning the "mile bead" at Young Women Camp, and climbing Mt. Peak with varied groups of friends including my daughter, I have also indulged in my share of ice cream cones, chocolate chip cookies, BBQ ribs (above), and peach pie (also above), et.al. It is so good to know that, when I get to my target weight, I have the skills I need to maintain it while still enjoying, in reasonable portions, lots of delicious foods with my family. Once again, PORTION CONTROL IS A KEY.
2. You know, I guess there really is no #2 or #3. Good, regular exercise and portion control are the answers. There's not much more to say on this subject of maintenance. Big surprise??! Healthy diet and regular exercise (and prayer!) are, after all, the magic answers we women search for. Figuring out how to tweak these things so that they fit into our individual lives, and then DOING THEM, is the challenge.
When my daughters go "Back to School" in a couple of weeks, I will be going "Back to My Own Early Posts" on beginning a weight loss effort. (February, March, April) I will jump in with the things that worked before, and keep my spiritual eyes open for new avenues to experiment with, and I will expect success!
So girls, almost time to get-er-goin' again ... hope you'll stay tuned and, better yet, join me in the months to come! Let's feel fit and healthy (and look great) by Christmas, what do ya say? How about THAT for a Christmas gift to ourselves??!
(I'm not above offering a good bribe, either, if you'll stick with me. Look for another chance at winning something cool in a give-away -- in exchange for one of your happy comments -- in my next post!)
Love to you all, and be back soon. :)