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4 Fun 4th of July Recipes

watermelon-flag

Since the 4th of July is 4 days away, I’ve rounded up 4 of my favorite user friendly fun-filled easy peasy recipes from 4th of Julys of the past! They’ve all been taste tested and friend and family approved!

Simple, delicious and festive. Perfect for any parade, picnic or patio!

The first of the 4 recipes, is the refreshing Patriotic Watermelon & Feta Flag (as shown above). It takes only minutes to put together and the sweet and salty factor makes it a perfect appetizer or a healthy dessert.

Or how about a Fresh Mozzarella Tomato & Basil Flag to kick off the meal?

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Fresh and flavorful and fun to eat plain or with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Hot ham & swiss sammies have been a 4th of July tradition since I was a little nipper.

hot-ham-baked

Would you just look at that sweet little sammie? You know that you want indulge in the warm savory poppy butter sauce, melted cheese, sweet salty cooked ham and ever-so-crispy bun, don’t you?

final-hot-ham-2

Your guests will too! They’re so yummy and travel friendly.

Have you ever made 4th of July Marshmallow Pops?

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Three ingredients. No mess. No hot oven to contend with in the blazing summer heat.

Not to mention stinken cute!

group-4th-july-marshmallow-pop-white-plate

The kids will love ’em and the adults will feel like kids again. And to me that’s just what the 4th of July is all about.

Fun, friends and festive food!

Hope I’ve made your entertaining a little easier this year.

Happy Red, White & Blue to you & yours!

~Wenderly

Categories
Eat Soups & Salads

Lentil Soup

finished-bowl-of-lentils-with-feta-side

My very first memory of tasting a delicious bowl of lentil soup was early Spring at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table. I was newly engaged to My Yanni and eager to learn all about his Greek family traditions. Sunday night suppers were a cherished event filled with all sorts of delicious dishes, stories of the past, and planning of our upcoming nuptials. This particular Sunday happened to be during the season of Lent and lentil soup was the main course. 

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Before then, I had never tasted lentil soup. The smooth, round, flat little beans intrigued me. 

They were so dainty and unassuming. 

lentils-dry-in-bowl

I can still picture the big steaming pot of lentils happily simmering on the stove. 

lentils-in-pot-after-cooking

And I can still remember savoring the warm scent of cumin, garlic and onion that filled the air while I sipped on a glass of wine. Once the soup was perfectly ready and dressed with the last drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar, it was time to gather around the table. 

I watched as my mother-in-law delicately scooped the hot soup into large, flat, white bowls,

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and sprinkled crumbled feta on top. 

lentils-topped-with-feta

Still to this day I can remember how that first heavenly bite of lentil soup tasted. Creamy, savory, slightly spicy and soul satisfying. 

 I relish in the ritual of making Yaya’s lentil soup this time of year as my mind travels back to my very first bowl. I find myself craving not only the lentil soup, but the delicious memories that come with it. 

Lovely lentil soup. Lent and lentil soup just seem to go hand and hand. Why don’t you give it a try? 

Happy first day of Spring!

~Wenderly

Lentil Soup
 
Author: Wendy Hondroulis | Wenderly
A delicious and savory springtime favorite at our house! Perfect for Lent or anytime of the year!
Ingredients
  • 1- 16 ounce bag dried green lentils
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 10 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for sauting
  • 1- 14.5 ounce can vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups water
  • crumbled feta, optional
Instructions
  1. Wash lentils.
  2. Warm 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over low heat. Add carrots, celery, potato, and onion.
  3. Meanwhile pour water into another large pot and boil lentils. Once they reach a boil, discard the water, and boil lentils once again, with 5 cups of fresh water over medium heat.
  4. Turn the heat of the vegetables up to a low/medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until they stick to bottom of the pot.
  5. Pour vegetables into pot with lentils and water.
  6. Deglaze the bottom of the vegetable pot with some of the lentil water. Add the deglazed liquid to pot with lentils and vegetables.
  7. Add tomato sauce, bay leaves, garlic, vegetable broth, canola oil, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt. Stir and bring to a boil.
  8. Turn heat down and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. Add red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil and stir.
  10. Top with crumbled feta, if desired.
  11. Enjoy!
 
Notes
If soup is too thick add boiling water (before adding red wine vinegar and olive oil) to achieve desired consistency.

 

Categories
Eat Inspire Soups & Salads

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup served in a Carnival Pumpkin

Serve some spicy butternut squash soup in a carnival pumpkin for a festive start to a holiday meal! It’s a darling presentation that will impress any guest!

See that darling little carnival pumpkin up there holding a delicious creamy & spicy butternut squash soup?

Just between you and me…it took moments to prepare.

Don’t tell anyone.

Sometimes it’s just necessary to dazzle without all of the hassel. Especially for the holidays.

You may already know this about me, but I’ve got a pumpkin problem -as in, I seem to collect a plethora of pumpkins every fall and every fall My Yanni says, “what on earth are you going to do with all of these pumpkins?”. And I say, “um, decorate our house with them and look at them and love them and call them George.”  He just rolls his eyes and smiles and pats me on the head in that you’re-such-a-cute-little-Wenderly way. Well this year I decided to actually do something with them. I decided to use them as darling little soup tureens. I had originally planned to roast the pumpkins & make soup with them. However, once roasted, they lost their sweet shape and there was so little flesh inside that I decided it would be easier to just embellish a store-bought soup.

Hence the dazzle without the hassel.

This is what I did. I collected a few of my cute little carnival pumpkins,

washed them with soap & water and patted them dry.

Then I cut off the tops,

and scooped out all the seeds. You may want to cut a slice off the bottom if the pumpkin isn’t sitting level. You don’t want the soup to spill.

Next I warmed up my favorite  store-bought squash soup.

Added crème fraîche for some extra decadence and creaminess,

sprinkled in some crushed cayenne, cumin and curry for some added spicy, earthy, warm flavoring.

Not to mention gorgeous color.

Next, I poured the soup into the carnival pumpkin, sprinkled a tiny bit of the cayenne, cumin and curry on top,

and added one more small dollop of creme fraiche for good measure.

Now if that isn’t the sweetest (and easiest) way to serve soup and dazzle your guests then I don’t know what is.

You can even keep the soup warm until your guests are seated.

And then peek-a-boo…

soup is served.

Enjoy!

~Wenderly

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup served in a Carnival Pumpkin
Recipe Type: soup recipe
Author: Wenderly |Wendy Hondroulis
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Serve some spicy butternut squash soup in a carnival pumpkin for a festive start to a holiday meal! It’s a darling presentation that will impress any guest!
Ingredients
  • 1- 32 ounce store-bought butternut squash soup (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon cumin- crushed
  • 1/2 curry- crushed
  • 1/2 cayenne- crushed
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 1 pinch fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Warm up boxed soup on the stove. Add crème fraîche, cumin, curry, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Wash six carnival pumpkins, cut off tops and scoop out seeds. Make sure that pumpkins are level (cut a slice off bottom if the pumpkin rolls around). Pour soup into pumpkins, sprinkle with cumin, curry and cayenne and top with small dollop of creme fraiche.
  2. Serve & Enjoy!

 

Categories
Eat Soups & Salads

Turkey Black Bean Chili

As soon as the weather turns chilly outside I instantly turn to a bowl of chili to warm me up on the inside. Sometimes food just has the ability to wrap you up in a warm blanket that soothes the soul doesn’t it? It’s kind of like that old friend that you haven’t seen in a looong time, the one that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and you wonder why you let so much time pass since your last visit. From the moment I bang & clank through the cabinet to find my favorite pot, to the dicing of the onions through the familiar veil of tears (as onions never fail to make me cry), I find myself eagerly awaiting that first piping hot spicy bite. Ooooh the anticipation.

I also find that I adore this delicious dish for its’ versatility. Doesn’t matter if I have ground turkey or beef on hand, a variety of beans or just one kind, chili is as forgiving as that dear old friend.

My personal favorite is turkey black bean chili. It’s hearty, healthy and quick. Here’s how I make it…

I begin by drizzling some olive oil into my favorite pot over a medium flame.

I grab an onion, I had a purple one but any kind will do.

Dice the onion (in my case, through a veil of tears).

Saute the onion until transparent, about 5-6 minutes.

Next, add the ground turkey and cook until the turkey is browned.

And now the time has come for me to introduce you to some other friends of mine that help in making chili a cinch…

…meet canned tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and of course the ever popular chili seasoning packet.

I’m a suburban mom of two who’s on the go and these little ditties make my life easier which makes me happy.

When I’m happy my family is happy…then everyone’s happy and life is good. And harmonious. And did I mention that I’m happy? Good, moving right along…

Sprinkle the chili seasoning packet all over the browned turkey, add a splash of water and stir until the turkey is totally coated in the spicy mixture.

Note – I used the “mild” mix because I like to embellish my chili with other “secret” ingredients.

My first secret ingredient….

Yep, Worcestershire sauce. Does wonders.

After adding tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and a can of rinsed black beans…

I add a few healthy shakes of the Worcestershire sauce. The tangy sweetness cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce and adds a fabulous depth of flavor.

For some kick I like to add Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper.

In my opinion to key to making a great chili is the layering of flavors. A little spicy, a bit of sweet & tangy and a kick at the end of each bite for good measure is always appreciated!

My favorite toppings or embellishments if you will, are sliced green onions,

and shredded cheese.

The crunch of the green onion and the goo of the melted cheese on top of the hearty spicy chili are, well, a spiritual experience.

I’m not sure just what it is about the combination of meat, beans and tomato sauce happily bubbling away in one big pot that makes me feel so at home and cozy, but it does.

I hope it makes you feel that way too!

Now, sit back and enjoy a big bowl of chili and relish in the warm fuzzy feeling of an old friend. Time and time again!

Wenderly

Turkey Black Bean Chili
 
As soon as the weather turns chilly outside I instantly turn to a bowl of chili to warm me up on the inside.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1- 16 oz. package of ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 – 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1- 15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1- 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1- 15.5 black beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 packet chili seasonings
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 drips Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a pot, chop and saute onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, sprinkle packet of chili seasonings and stir with a splash of water until turkey is evenly coated.
  3. Pour in cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and black beans, give chili a good stir.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper (add more than suggested if you like).
  5. Garnish with sliced green onions and shredded cheese.
  6. ~ENJOY!
Serving size: 6

 

Categories
Eat Soups & Salads

Crunchy Summer Slaw

Summer is here and it’s time for fresh, easy salads. And boy, oh boy, do I have an easy peasy fresh salad to share with all of you! Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen when the fun of summer is calling your name?

Not me!

This salad can be enjoyed on its own as a perfect little lunch or served with any meat that you might be preparing. Better yet, impress all of you friends at the next summer potluck!

Are you ready?

These are the 4 simple ingredients brought to you by Trader Joe’s.

Now if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your neck of the woods, I’m so VERY sorry! But don’t worry, you should be able to find all of these little goodies at your local grocery store.

1 bag of shredded cabbage ( feel free to shred your own if you wish, I just love the texture of the Trader Joe’s already shredded)

1 bag of organic broccoli slaw with carrots

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

1 cup of old fashioned salted blister peanuts

Now this is your secret ingredient –

The sweet poppy seed dressing! It’s to-die-for! Not too sweet or thick and just the right amount of poppy seeds!

Now let’s begin.

First grab a big sharp knife and cutting board, cut off the stems and give your cilantro a rough chop.

I wish that you smell the fresh yummy scent of this cilantro filling my kitchen.

Heaven on earth!

I like my cilantro chopped on the bigger side because I love the flavor, especially in this dish. But feel free to chop it to whatever size you like!

Next mix the bag of cabbage and broccoli slaw together. If you’ve never tastes broccoli slaw then you are in for a treat! It’s so crunchy and adds a great texture to the salad.

Next add peanuts and pour the whole bottle of dressing all over the top!

Sprinkle on the chopped cilantro…

then give it a good toss add a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste…

and you now have the perfect refreshing, crunchy, salty & sweet slaw that takes minutes AND will put a smile on your face with each bite!

So what are you waiting for? Go have some FUN!

Happy Summer!

Wenderly

Do you have any yummy salads to share?

Categories
Eat Soups & Salads

Greece is Just a Salad Away

You may already know this, but I married a nice Greek boy. And let me tell you those Greeks know how to live life LARGE and enjoy everything that life has to offer. Whether it’s their fabulous Mediterranean food, dancing under grape vines into the dark of night or simply enjoying an afternoon nap, the Greeks really know how to live.

And I know first hand.

My Yanni and I had the incredible opportunity to spend the summer in Greece for our Honeymoon. It was fabulous.

My love of Farmer’s Markets actually started while in Greece that summer. If you want to talk about Farmer’s Markets… forget about it – you’ve never seen a Farmer’s Market until you’ve experienced one in Greece!

End of story.

The produce almost looked artificial, the colors were so vivid, the sizes of the fruits & vegetables were like nothing I had ever laid eyes on before. And the taste?

Unimaginable.

One of my all time favorite things to eat was their Greek salad. And trust me there were so many delicious things to eat, well except for the goat that was offered to me by one of My Yanni’s distant Uncles. I’m serious. It is a very big compliment ya know. But I just wasn’t into fresh goat, personally, not that there’s anything wrong with fresh goat, it’s just not for me, that’s all.

But that’s another story for another day.

So back to my favorite thing to eat, Greek salad!

Last week while at the Worthington Farmer’s Market, I bought some gorgeous grape tomatoes. They just pop with flavor in your mouth and are as sweet as sugar. They reminded me of Greece and I just had to make a Greek salad ASAP. I promise you this will become a favorite salad of yours as well…

So without further ado, here are the yummy, fresh ingredients-

.

  • grape tomatoes
  • red onion
  • cucumber
  • Kalamata olives
  • feta cheese

*note, you may use any variety of the tomato, onion, and cucumber but the feta and Kalamata olives are a must in a Greek salad.

These are the ingredients for the dressing-

  • extra virgin Olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • course salt & pepper
  • dried dill

This is your secret ingredient for a FAB salad.

DILL.

I kid you not. My (Greek) Mother in law introduced me to this wonderful addition and it really does wonders with the flavors. Not really sure how or why, I just know that it is delicious!

I decided not to bore the daylights out of you by showing you each individual veggie being chopped,  just try to get them all cut in the same general size. It makes for more balanced bites and a more attractive salad.

And we all want an attractive salad, don’t we?

Well I do anyway.

I started with the cucumbers, I left the skin on because the English cucumbers have a thin skin that isn’t bitter.

Just look at those glorious colors!! Almost as beautiful as being in Greece. Almost.


I love to use purple onions for their pretty color and they are mild which happens to be better for my tum. Not to mention they go fabulously with the purplish hue of the Kalalmata olives.

Remember…an attractive salad is key.

Next pour on the olive oil and red wine vinegar, I usually just eyeball the amounts, but the general rule of thumb is 2 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar.

Then sprinkle a few healthy pinches of your secret ingredient, dried dill and some salt & pepper and toss!

Now if this doesn’t just take you straight to Greece than I don’t know what will!

OPA!

Wenderly

Categories
Soups & Salads

Dinner’s in the bag with Trader Joe’s

Honestly, I can’t even remember how many years I’ve been frequenting my local Trader Joe’s. But what I do know for sure is that I DO LOVE my Beloved Trader Joe’s. And what’s not to love? It’s a fun, friendly, customer always comes first kinda place- full of delicious, quick and easy meals. They also do their part in keeping their prices low, have yummy food sampling every day and encourage customers to bring their own grocery bag…

a bag that earns you a ticket in the monthly $25 worth of groceries drawing.

I have been trying to win this drawing for however-many-years that I have been happily shopping there. EVERY time I say, “one of these days I’M going to win this!”

Literally, out loud I say, “I’m going to win this”.

As a side note, I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking! Life’s too short to be all crabby and crotchety. I believe in making a conscious effort to be happy…  I am truly an optimist, – I love to come across a really grumpy stranger in the course of my day and see if I can make them smile! If you BELIEVE… you WILL …and guess what I get the front spot almost every time.

With that being said, I was in the throngs of trying to get this blog up (with the generous help of My Yanni, my husband, and well…enough said) which was really fun and exciting, but at the same time reminded me a bit of childbirth…only without the epidural.

So maybe…just maybe…I was a bit optimistically challenged – temporarily.

And I was sick, and it was Spring Break and we were on a staycation, and I was sick and it was Spring Break…(as in the kids were home and bored and the ONLY ones that didn’t go anyplace).

So, I took my 9 year old daughter, Sweet Cheeks, with me for a quick run to Trader Joe’s and was reminded that it would be the LAST time that they would ever do the $25 grocery drawing EVER! I looked at Sweet Cheeks and she said ,(before I could coo out my usual, “I’m going to win this…” ) “I know, I know, ‘you’re going to win it'”… with that, I’ve heard this a million times tone.

And with that, we were on our way.

A week later (on April Fool’s Day of all days) I received the phone call.

I had won the drawing. There were over 900 tickets. And I had won the very… last… drawing.

You would have thought that I’d won the lotto.

I kid you not.

But in more ways than one, it was another example to my children (and to myself) that the power of positive thinking is alive and well.

AND this is were I parked when I went to collect my $25 worth of groceries (plus all the other things that I just couldn’t live without!).

Did you notice?….front spot.

Now I can’t take you all the way to Traders Joe’s and not a share a delicious, simple, easy and pocketbook friendly favorite recipe, can I?

It’s been a family staple, I call it Chicken Corn Chowder.

Well…here it is-

These are the ingredients

Now, I’ll go slow, this gets a little tricky.

Open cans and drain.

Put in pot.

Pour in box of soup.

Heat up.

Are you still with me?

Oh, yeah – add the chili pepper sauce a few drops at a time until you achieve desired heat.

And I like it HOT like My Yanni.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

It’s as simple as that!

And boy is it DELISH! Even my picky kids love it! A one stop shopping PLUS a one pot meal!

Garnish with Trader Joe’s baked chips.

I’m happy! Are you happy?!

In the days and weeks to come, I will be sharing many of my favorite things with all of you. Things that make my journey in “perfecting the art of life in suburbia” a little easier. Trader Joe’s is DEFINITELY one of them!

Enjoy and may you have the front spot every time,

Wenderly