Thursday, September 16, 2010

Packing the perfect picnic.. Spiders & all...

We have been enjoying the last few drops of summer weather here in Northwest Montana with a promise that winter is right around the corner. It feels like we have had about a week and a half of summer, but I'm not complaining.. Okay. I am, but seriously only a few nice hot days? Okay, I know. Get over it. 
In pursuit of getting over it I decide that a picnic is in order. I whipped up some delicious Smoked Salmon Dip, Caprese Sandwiches, Potato Salad, and Mediterranean Vegetable Salad. Time to be outside soaking up the last bits of sunshine and eating deliciously decadent foods. There are a few obstacles to picnics, one of which is ants, but out here the bigger problem is spiders. I used to be deathly afraid of spiders, but out here they are prolific. I mean everywhere. Just the other day one was hanging out in my bikini top... while I had it on! Talk about a jolt, you should have seen me jumping up and down screaming..
 Recently, however, a dear friend of mine shared helped me overcome the fear of spiders by sharing their totem with me. As she described it the spider totem represents creativity and balance, especially in the area of writing. This perked my interest and I started looking around for more information in our favorite Spirit Animals book.
 What I discovered is that some ideas are that generally accepted are that her "thread" connects the human world and the world of spirits or the "above world" and the "below world". Spider Woman also weaves the "relationship" of the Web of Life and all beings. 
Also, it is said that she weaves the web of fate and if we are not decisive enough about changing our lots in life, we may end up being consumed by our fears and limitations. Okay.. I get it... Stop being afraid of spiders.  Spiders should encourage us to create, create, create whatever we want! Whether we write, paint, draw, sing, dance, cook... whatever. If life feels boring (or gloomy) let spider help inspire you! Let's get creative when we feed our kids, families, loved ones, and souls!

I have provided lots of delicious recipes for picnics, school lunches, or whatever you want. I hope that along with spider, I inspire you to create, create, create!

Smoked Salmon Hummus

1 (15 Ounce) Can Garbanzo Beans; rinsed
1 Cup Fat Free Plain Yogurt
2 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp. Dried Cumin
1 tsp. Seasonal Salt
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 tbsp. Dried Parsley
2 Cups Smoked Salmon; chunked 

1. In a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, yogurt, garlic, cumin, seasonal salt, lemon juice, and dried parsley. Process until smooth. 
2. Add 1 cup of the smoked salmon and continue processing for 30-60 seconds. Stir in the remaining cup of chunked smoked salmon. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and fresh parsley. Serve with your favorite crackers, pita slices, and fresh vegetables!

 Caprese Sandwich
 1 large tomato; sliced diagonally
1 clove garlic; minced
6-10 leaves fresh basil
4 one ounce slices of mozzarella cheese
4 slices of whole wheat bread
Olive oil

1. In a hot skillet heat a little dab of olive oil. Spread the garlic lightly over the inside of each slice of bread and place on slice of bread into the hot oil. Add the mozzarella, basil leaves, and tomatoes on the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then place the other slice of bread on top with the garlic on the inside of the sandwich. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes a side. The cheese will be melted and the bread crispy. 
2. Slice in half and serve immediately while the cheese is oooey-goooey! You can also save on calories by making this open faced and skipping the top slice of bread! Either way it is delicious!

 Herbed Potato Salad
3 large potatoes
2 tbsp. fresh dill; minced
2 tbsp. green olives; minced
2 tbsp. fresh chives; minced
1/2 tbsp. lemon grass
1 tbsp. stone ground mustard
1 tbsp. light balsamic dressing
1 tbsp. low fat sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes or until you can easily squeeze the skins. You can also take a short cut and microwave the potatoes for 20-25 minutes depending on how big they are. Once cooked, allow the potatoes to cool for 15 minutes.
2. Slice the potatoes into cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the dill, olives, chives, lemon grass, ground mustard, balsamic dressing, and sour cream to the potatoes and stir to combine. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat!

Garden Veggie Mediterranean Salad
3 large garden ripe tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1/2 green onion
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup fresh basil
16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans
1/2 cup low fat balsamic dressing (Paul Newman's is the best!)

1. Slice the tomatoes, zucchini, green onion, garlic, chives, and basil into bite sized pieces. Add to a large mixing bowl. Cube the mozzarella cheese and add to the bowl along with the garbanzo beans rinsed. Stir to combine.

2. Add the balsamic dressing to the mixture and stir coating all of the veggies and cheese. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry and brighten. Serve cold right out of the fridge!
Mental Health Benefit: Being outside amongst the fresh air, wild flowers, and spiders also promotes a healthy appetite. I know I am hungrier when I'm camping or playing outside! Join me in enjoying these last few minutes of summer time together! As the weather turns we too are reminded of the changes with in all of us within each moment. Let's share in the creativity of mother nature and ourselves as we prepare healthy meals filled with love!

Wishing you more sunshine from my creative kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot messes in the kitchen!

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