Basil Gazpacho with Homemade Crunchy Croutons


This is  Helen’s Basil Gazpacho and Crunchy Crouton recipe and it is worth the trouble!  I am not saying you will need to grow your veggies in a garden like Helen’s –  see below – but according to Helen “If you want something good then you have to go to a lot of trouble and that’s just the way it is.”  Helen is an extraordinary cook, gardener, knitter and friend.  Thank you for doing this post with me Helen – now I have one of my favorite Helen creations down on the books.



The reason you want the croutons to get extra crispy is so they stay crispy once they are put in the Gazpacho. This is the best Gazpacho so get ready!  Helen says “god help you if there are any leftover croutons because you will just sit there eating them.” It is SO true.

INGREDIENTS for Crunchy Croutons

1 day old free form loaf or baguette

3 – 6 T each – butter & olive oil,  – adjust amount depending on the size of the loaf.


garlic powder

onion powder

dried parsley


use Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning as an alternative to the individual seasonings


  1. Preheat oven to Bake  300°
  2. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes
  3. Bake for 1 hour
  4. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet on Medium, add toasted bread and toss until well coated in oil and butter
  5. Turn heat to low, add spices and toss
  6. Remove from heat and set aside


INGREDIENTS for Basil Gazpacho

Serves 4 – 6


1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped with juice

2 garlic cloves minced

1 4 oz jar of pimento, drained

3 cup of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 c white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons basil, chopped

  1. Skin tomatoes: submerge tomatoes in hot water for 2 minutes, until skin cracks easily.  Cool and peel.
  2. Chop all the veggies and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add other ingredients and spices.
  4. Blend ingredients with a hand blender (or use a food processor) until you reach the right consistency.
  5. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  6. Garnish with herbs and Crunchy Croutons and serve chilled.



Arriving at our New Home: Leek and Cannellini Bean Salad

Leek and Cannellini Salad1
Whew. That was the longest road trip of my life- and I don’t mean in distance. Traveling with MSU’s Littlest Bobcat was way different from when it was just the two of us driving across the country! We made it, and the tot did amazingly well. For the past two days, we have been stretching our legs and exploring this gorgeous gem of a city, so I thought I would share one of my first restaurant finds and one of our first meals in the apartment…


Yesterday, after shopping for necessities, having arrived late on Friday night, we found this sweet little joint for a late-morning meal:


This laid back, order-at-the-counter restaurant seems like a chain, but after visiting their website, there is only this one, as far as I can tell. Clark’s Fork is an allusion to Lewis and Clark’s explorations and is geared toward fresher, healthier food, fast, as well as being very eco-minded. They serve breakfast all day, make sandwiches from fresh-baked bread, and also have a drool-worthy case of baked goods to accompany a coffee.

2011-06-11_11-28-02_511   2011-06-11_11-28-33_602

The price was right. I love eating cheap when you know you’re still getting something good. Soaking in the view from our table of the snow-capped mountains and green hills surrounding town, I felt sure this spot would be visited frequently during our time out west and missed when we make our return east.

I loved these posters they had on the walls; each with a different quote from Clark’s expedition journals, I assume. This one just seemed so perfect…


…which leads me to our first homemade meal in Bozeman…


Leek and Cannellini Salad2

After five days in a stuffed car and an unexpected delay in Wyoming with car trouble, our systems felt a little…ummm…rough. The first request was that I make something light. Second, something cleansing. I decided on using leeks since they are a mild diuretic. I had been able to catch glimpses of the Food Network while chasing the toddler around a car dealership for 3 hours, and I saw Claire Robinson, of 5-Ingredient-Fix, making a Cannellini Bean salad that looked yummy. I didn’t really hear much of the show, but it’s amazing what you can catch just from glimpses every now and then. I saw her flame-char her red pepper, and this really did add such flavor that I will probably do this much more, for any recipe. The majority of the ingredients are really just what I felt like throwing in. This is a great summery dish to serve with broiled tilapia and sourdough bread…

Leek and Cannellini Salad6

Leek and Cannellini Salad5


Leek and Cannellini Salad5


Inspired by Claire Robinson 


1 Can Cannellini Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Leek, coarsely chopped (use only white and light green parts)
1 Medium Cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Cup Coarsely Chopped Parsley
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Large Lemon
1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper


Heat olive oil in a skillet and add minced garlic. Simmer for 3-4 minutes to infuse flavor.

Char red pepper either in gas flame or under broiler. Peel and dice red pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine beans, leek, cucumber, bell pepper, and parsley.

In a small bowl, whisk together Olive oil (w/garlic), seasonings, and lemon juice. Pour over bean mixture. Stir gently to incorporate.

Chill before serving.

Spicy Thai Noodles

Spicy Thai1

The aroma from this sauce will dance off your stove and have your family investigating the peanutty, sweet smells.  ‘What’s for dinner?‘ is a typical response.  Compliments of The Grit! – an amazing vegetarian fare restaurant in the hip downtown of Athens, GA- these Spicy Thai Noodles are one of my favorite recipes from their cookbook.  My friend, Helen, introduced me to this place a few years ago and it is the kind of food that I sit around all day dreaming about.  Their Thai Noodle Bowl – ‘special of the day’ – had me talking about it for weeks! The list of vegetarian options at The Grit are endless, and each one is mouth-watering good.

I love to make these Noodles for parties – always a crowd pleaser!  Also, it makes the best leftovers in the world and your kids will love them too.

I added a couple of carrots, sliced julienne. I love the color and it compliments the dish well. Also I want to mention that this recipe is not very spicy – my kids love it just like this – but if it were up to me I would add more chili paste, or oil, to turn up the heat on this dish because I love spicy!


Serves 4

12 ounces of slender pasta

4 quarts of water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons chili paste or 1/2 teaspooon chili oil

2 teaspoons granulated garlic, or fresh

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 lime – freshly squeezed

5 green onions

1 cup of snow peas or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 carrots julienne

1/2 cup slivered almonds


Combine water and salt in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain thoroughly in a large colander, rinse with cool water and drain again; set aside.

Combine all other ingredients except green onions, peas, carrots and almonds in a saucepan and stir well over high heat until gently boiling. Remove from heat. Toss noodles and sauce in a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly. Toss with remaining ingredients cover and refrigerate. Serve well-chilled.