Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cucumber Facts - Who Knew?

I received an email from Chris' mom all about cucumbers after I told her I had a dozen coming out of my ears.  She sent me the following facts and reminded me how lucky I am.  SO for those of you that have an abundance of cucumbers, make sure you share them, because I think we can all use a few more cukes! :)  Here's the facts!

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!
6.. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!
7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.
8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!
10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meals on Mondays - Oh so many Cucumbers

The weather this year has been perfect for my cucumber plant.  Yes, I planted one single cucumber plant.  And I've taken 2 dozen cukes off already and there's more that are still growing.  My cucumber has gotten massively big (I staked it when I planted it with a big square tomato cage so that it would grow up rather than sprawling all over my small patch of vegetables.  But let me tell you, it grew up, then overflowed the cage and grew back down... and now it is officially sprawling all over my garden.  At least I delayed the inevitable to let my peppers and tomatoes grow tall enough to get their own sunshine.

So with the copious amounts of cucumbers I have, right now I have two favorite recipes to use them.  So today you get a two-fer!  Try one or both!  I think you'll like 'em!

Recipe 1 - Basic Tomato Cucumber Salad - a spin on one of my favorite Caprese Salads.
1 Cucumber
1 Tomato
2 sticks of string cheese
2 Tbsp You Favorite Italian Dressing

Peel & slice cucumber.  Dice Tomato. Dice String Cheese.  Combine all in bowl and toss with your dressing.  Eat immediately!  How Easy is that?

Recipe 2 - Twisted Sister's Creamy Cucumber Salad - Made Dawn's way :)
2 medium cucumbers
1 Tbsp onion flakes
2 large tomatoes
1/2 green pepper (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. seasoned salt - more to taste if desired

Peel, halve and slice cucumbers into 1/2" slices.  (Important not to go thinner because cucumbers will then get soggy in dressing.)

Wash and quarter tomatoes.  Take out the seeds and rough dice the tomato meat.

Add onion flakes. (If desired, you can use 1 medium red onion roughly diced)

Thinly slice 1/2 green pepper.  Cut slices into 1" strips.

Combine all veggies into bowl and give a good toss to mix well.

Dressing:  Combine mayo, vinegar, sugar, parsley, dill and season salt in separate bowl.  Mix well.  Pour over vegetables and give a good toss to thoroughly coat all of the vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours stirring at least once to re-distribute the dressing.  When you first put dressing in, it seems dry... don't worry.  It quickly starts mixing with the natural juices of the vegetables.

You'll love this recipe!  I have a hard time actually putting it in the fridge for 2 hours.  I personally like the freshness of the veggies about 10 minutes after I make it... but maybe that's part of my "red-headed-ness!" :)

This post is part of SLM Petersen's Meals on Monday collection of recipes.  Every Monday we Celebrate Cooking and Sharing time around the dinner table with family.  Anybody is welcome to join us and please, take a moment to click here and check out Stacy's blog and this weeks other Meals on Monday Contributors! :)

Enjoy your cucumbers and I hope your gardens are growing plentifully!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The BEST Grape Salad in the WORLD!

A few weeks ago at a family BBQ Chris' mom brought this grape salad.  She had gotten the recipe from a neighbor (can you believe they've been neighbors since 1969?) This is one of those neighbors that became like family - thus she's called Auntie D.  Auntie D had some descriptive words about just how good this salad is... but they wouldn't be appropriate for this G-rated blog. :)

After eating it, I can assure you all her adjectives were spot on!  So I'm sharing the recipe with you.  It's SUPER simple, yet is AMAZING.  Seriously, you wouldn't think grapes could be the star of the BBQ, but they were.  I could have eaten half of the pan!

Auntie D's Best Damn Grape Salad
4 lbs of seedless grapes (mixed red & green)
8 oz of cream cheese - softened
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp. Vanilla

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Spread grapes on bottom of a 9x13 cake pan.  Mix Cream Cheese, Sour Cream & Vanilla.  Spread over the top of grapes and mix in.  

For the topping, mix well - brown sugar and chopped nuts.  Sprinkle on top and refrigerate.

That's it... It sounds so easy because it is so easy.  But it tastes just amazing.  The cream cheese & sour cream blend w/ the vanilla tastes almost like caramel.  This could be a dessert as well as a side salad.  It just depend on when you want to eat dessert! ;)

This post is part of Meals on Mondays started by my good friend Stacy Petersen.  Anybody is welcome to join us and share your links.  Here's a link to Stacy's blog post where she has a super McLinky tool for everybody to share your links! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meals on Mondays - Turkey Goulash

In an effort to eat healthier, and having more fresh produce readily available, this weeks recipe comes from my Eating For Life Cookbook - by Bill Phillips.

For those that don't know Bill Phillips, he was the original creator of Body for Life - long before Biggest Loser or any of the other weightloss shows hit the market.  Body for Life as a program is phenomenal - both eating and weight training, because cardio just isn't enough.  Muscle burns more calories than fat SOOOOO more muscle = higher metabolism... regardless of your age!

Okay off my soapbox for now.  We had this recipe last week and it was dynamite! 

American Turkey Goulash
Serves 4

4 portions Egg Noodles (about 8 oz uncooked)
1 onion chopped
1 red bell pepper sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
4 portions lean ground turkey (about 1 lb.)
2 cups tomato sauce
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp red wine (optional - I left it out)

1.  Prepare egg noodles according to package directions.
2.  Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, saute chopped onion for 2 minutes.  Add bell pepper to the onion and saute for another 2 minutes. Add zucchini and saute for 2 more minutes.  Remove vegetables & set aside.
3.  Add ground turkey to the skillet and saute until no longer pink (about 10 min.)
4.  When the ground turkey is done, return vegetables to the skillet.  Add tomato sauce, basil & red wine (optinal).  Cook stirring occassionally for 5 minutes or until heated through.
5. Place a portion of noodles on each plate and top with a portion of Turkey Goulash mixture.  Serve & enjoy!

Try it!  I bet you'll like it and you won't even know it's turkey! :)