July wrapping up has me wondering what the fall will be like- along with the rest of the country. We don’t know what school will be like for kindergarten. Returning to daycare will be a change too. I’m working remotely and I’ve settled into that. July normally would have been a summer vacation week to the beach but this year we just went for a day. It was good for what it was. I don’t feel like I’m mourning what “should have been”.
In the kitchen this month. I went with a lettuce-less salad series. Lettuce is my least fav part of salad so I strove for salads that are fresh and cool and packed with flavor and texture without any greens. Also, whip up some easy chocolate mousse.
This peach, tomato, and mozzarella salad has a balsamic drizzle and was DE-LIGHT-FUL. The kids loved it and it turned Mr. J onto peaches! It was great and we’re already due for a repeat.
Another one was purple cabbage, carrots and peanut sauce with so much flavor and crunch alongside our sesame noodles & edamame. Brown sauce isn’t photogenic but peanut sauce is so great and this isn’t one to miss.
We also had this watermelon, mint, and cucumber salad as a relish or topping for grilled chicken. It was so juicy and crunchy and perfect. I chopped ours tiny- for topping and for a 2 year old. It could easily be bigger chunks for a side.
The Pre-K Guy:
He’s becoming such a strong swimmer! He would have had a summer of swimming lessons at daycamp but here we are. I’m amused to see his monochromatic outfit choices. He looooved getting library books for the first time since March! He’s into the sandbox and puttering around the driveway with tools and discarded remnants from Mr. J’s projects. Go Jetters is his show of choice for the moment. Snacky lunch is the current fav and cherries!
The Toddler Girl:
Her tiny voice singing is just so dang cute. She loves wheels on the bus, happy birthday, itsy bitsy spider and I can’t get enough of it. Her strength and determination is shining through once in a while – maybe I should stop telling her she’s about to be two? She loves jelly, peaches, and yogurt. Her impressions repeating what somebody just said, in their tone is also amusing.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of beauty/selfcare – I got new facewash – so exciting! haha
Prep intentional sides and veggies: Yup! All the salads!
Eat more fish: ehh I don’t know that we had much fish this month
Blog some series: salads, sans lettuce!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: I didn’t but should get back on that.
Share more books on instagram: I’ve shared the collections I pull for the kids and what I’m into.
Prioritize workouts: I finished barre blend. Then I got going on a lifting one. It is too hot to run this week but I’ve tended to do ~2 miles once a week.
What I’m reading: I finished The Secrets We Kept for bookclub and loved how many topics are represented, then read Girl Woman Other and was so captivated and connected to the characters, and The Wife Between Us which was a thriller but actually lighter in terms of thought required. I’m just finished Beyond Belief: My Secret Life inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape which is a bit lengthy and too many details included and lacked enough personal reflection for me- I preferred Leah Remini’s book for an overview of Scientology and for a personal experience.
What I’m listening to: a podcast here and there but I’m behind on all that I’d normally catch on my commutes.
What I’m watching: we just watched the Last Dance docu-series about Michael Jordon and the 1990s Bulls. It was so well done and fascinating – despite the fact that I don’t follow basketball and I had no idea all these players were on the same team! We watched the movie The Way Back and thought it was great.
This salad is a great side or it eats like a meal too. It miiiight not be the most picturesque but I couldn’t not share it. Think crunchy purple cabbage and carrots with peanut sauce and some shredded chicken- or skip the chicken. Either way, it is great and so fast.
Cabbage & Carrot Slaw with Peanut Sauce
Ingredients: (for ~4-5 as sides, or ~2 as a meal)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 large carrots, shredded
~1 cup roasted chicken, shredded (optional)
Shake the sauce together in a jar (or whisk together in a bowl) the soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Refrigerate until serving or make and serve.
Mix the cabbage and the carrot.
Drizzle in the peanut sauce and mix well. Add in the chicken – if using- and stir gently.
I loved this! Know that brown sauce – like peanut sauce – is not beautiful but so tasty. We had it with sesame noodles and edamame- that’s on the regular rotation here. This slaw was great for a crunch and for the peanut flavor. My 5-year-old pb lover liked it and ate a bunch. My ~2-year-old pb lover only ate a little.
There you have it, my salads without lettuce:
this cabbage and carrot slaw with peanut sauce
Watermelon Mint Salad
Peach, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad
All these lettuce-less salad series will not be exclusively with fruit, but this was too good not to come next. Also, we bought a whole watermelon and the kids are just not as into it as other fruit so finding all the ways to use it was necessary. I chopped it up really finely to use the salad as a relish/topping, but it would be great on the side!
Watermelon Mint Salad
Ingredients: (for 4 as a side, for 6 as a topping)
1 cup watermelon
~10 mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Chop the watermelon, cucumber, shallot, and mint and add to a bowl.
Add in the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice plus some salt and pepper and chili powder. Stir well and chill until serving.
This salad is so fresh and light and flavorful. It could be spiced up with jalapenos or other peppers. It would be great as salsa with chips too or in larger pieces as a side. We had it on top of grilled chicken this time.
July brings us a lettuce-less salad series! Lettuce is often my least fav part of salad and my kids are not so into lettuce- maybe for the texture? This salad is all summer with peach, fresh mozzarella, tomato, and cucumber with balsamic reduction. When I say peach, I often mean nectarine but you do you. This was a hit for all of us! It may have turned Mr. J onto nectarines!
Peach, Mozzarella & Tomato Salad
Ingredients: (for 4)
1 8 oz fresh mozzarella ball
1 cup grape tomatoes
2/3 of a cucumber
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
Chop the peach, mozzarella, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Mix and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
If making it ahead of time, chop only the peach, tomatoes and cucumbers. Then chop the mozzarella and drizzle just before serving. Mini mozzarella balls would work well for this too!
The flavors and textures here are so perfect for summer. We ate it as a side with dinner and all of us loved it- we’re very into nectarines right now! I bought balsamic reduction since we’ll eat it a lot this summer and it just makes life a little easier but it is also so simple to make. Just bring balsamic vinegar to a boil and simmer for ~10 minutes until thickened. Then cool before using. That’s an easier way to have a smaller amount too.
I have a few more lettuce-less salads coming. Stay tuned!
This is totally cheating- this isn’t true mousse, but everyone needs the easiest dessert ever, right? YES. Kids could definitely make this. It seems silly to share given how little cooking is involved, but it is a great one to have in your back pocket- especially something quick and cool. The other night we did a friends call where everyone picked a drink and food item. I went with a riesling and this chocolate mousse. It was a great paring!
Easy Chocolate Mousse
1 box instant chocolate pudding
milk (as the package instructs)
6-8 oz cool whip
mini chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles
Prepare the pudding according to the package.
Once cooled and set, mix in 3/4 of the cool whip.
Serve with a dollop of cool whip and garnish.
Mr. J chose a white wine and boursin with melba toasts. We had a great variety!