Cooler Corn:
How to Cook Corn in a Beer Cooler ♥

Cooler Corn - How to Cook Corn in a Beer Cooler (update: use same technique on the stove!) @ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 How to cook fresh summer sweet corn in a cooler – and more importantly, why you want to cook those gorgeous ears of corn in one, whether you're camping or not. Updated with info on how to use the same technique to cook corn in a big pot on the stove, it'll "hold" the hot corn for about two hours after cooking. Great for parties and cookouts! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated & republished 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

Now let me confess right off, I got some grief for cooking corn in a beer cooler. "You might as well cook that corn in the dishwasher," was the less-than-excited response. But a real veggie evangelist will press on even under pressure, ever on the hunt for new and interesting – and always, useful – ways to cook vegetables.

Besides, I was pretty sure my dear Auntie Karen was onto something when she sent me the "recipe" awhile back. (Ha! Is something this easy a recipe? Yes, if it's life-changing, you bet.)

It felt like a good idea for cooking corn outside, while camping, say, or for a shore lunch when fishing.
It felt like a good way to cook a whole mess of corn for a crowd with practically zero fuss and muss.

But here's the thing, why this is my new way to cook corn:

Marinated Tomatoes ♥

Marinated Tomatoes, so simple, so summer. Recipe, tips, nutrition and Weight Watchers points @ AVeggieVenture.com.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's oh-so-simple but still sumptuous tomato recipe: Perfectly ripe summer tomatoes marinated in gentle vinegar and good olive oil with slivers of onion and fresh herbs. Yeah that's it but is it ever heavenly! Weight Watchers Friendly, WW PointsPlus 2. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

Tis a happy day, the day the first tomato ripens. We sit in the shade to share the first one like an apple: better one tomato than two, somehow, for this heady moment. The flesh is already warm from the morning sun, tomato juices run down our chins. We grin: summer has arrived! Soon we'll be doing all the things gardeners do with what will soon become a glut of tomatoes – a summer-only tomato soup, the Italian bread salad, even making homemade mayonnaise just for BLTs. But this very first tomato? It's always the best of the summer.

Once or twice a week for the rest of the tomato season, the evening meal will include either Marinated Tomatoes or a cousin salad with both cucumbers and tomatoes. It's hardly a "recipe" – call it a "concept" or better yet, just a reminder to revel in a summer tomato at least once this year.

Asian Greens ♥
(How to Cook Fresh Greens with Asian-Style Taste)

Asian Greens @ AVeggieVenture.com, cuz you never want to throw away fresh greens again. Low carb, Weight Watchers PointsPlus 1, vegan, paleo, Whole30.
graphic button small size size 10 An easy way to cook fresh greens (such as kohlrabi leaves, beet greens, chard, and other greens) and then season with Asian-style flavors. Low carb. Weight Watchers friendly with just one PointsPlus. Paleo and Whole 30 approved. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". Most important? Totally tasty and good for us, too! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated 2015~
~ republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

So maybe I should set up a challenge, "Never again throw away fresh greens".

Because we all know what really happens, right? We love the fresh beets from the farmers market. We're enchanted by the perfect globes of kohlrabi in our CSA box. But the greens? The beet tops? The kohlrabi leaves? Not so much.

Last week, after making a big batch of Roasted Kohlrabi, I started to throw away the kohlrabi leaves – and then stopped myself, knowing that it was wasteful, financially and nutritionally. But what to make with kohlrabi leaves? I considered the technique from Greek Greens, my favorite way to cook greens when they're fresh, to hold for a day or two, then took inspiration from a recipe by Ivy Manning published on Culinate.

Yay – an Asian twist to cooking fresh greens! In fact, while I used the recipe for cooking kohlrabi leaves, I would recommend this simple technique for the many greens found in Asian markets.

Garlicky Zucchini Noodles with Leftover Lobster ♥

Garlicky Zucchini Noodles with Leftover Lobster, call it dinner in 15 minutes flat @ AVeggieVenture.com ~ Low carb, high protein, Weight Watchers PointsPlus 5
graphic button small size size 10 So much to love about zucchini noodles, aka "zoodles"! Here I've paired the spiral zucchini noodles with leftover lobster, oo-la-la, it's completely special but still, it's on the table in a fast 15 minutes. Weight Watchers Friendly, just 5 PointsPlus. Low Carb. High Protein. Gluten Free. Paleo. And naturally, totally tasty. I even thought about calling it "OMG Zucchini Noodles with Leftover Lobster". graphic button small size size 10

So leftover lobster is a definite "first" for me and at age someputty-something, the math says that leftover lobster is likely a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience too. But the thing is? I would totally buy lobster just to make this again.

Let me back up a tiny step? So we had a little shindig here on Saturday to celebrate the longest day of the year Scandinavian-style. If you're keen for the menu for our Scandinavian Midsummer feast, it's here. But the short story is that the menu was all about the fish. We went kinda crazy, for sure, serving salmon three different ways plus shrimp, scallops, pickled herring, smoked whitefish and a whole pile – a huge pile – of lobster claws. Man, people attacked those claws! But there were so many, we still ended up with leftovers!

Now truth be told Number One, this lobster claw meat is slightly tough and grainy. Is it always that way? Maybe it is?? I don't know, maybe someone does??? Anyway, I didn't want to "cook" the lobster meat anymore, just warm it through.

Now truth be told Number Two, I didn't plan on sharing this recipe. I was just making supper, using up leftovers like every good cook does most nights out of seven. But with the first bite? I grabbed the camera, plated a serving all pretty-like and found the last of the day's pre-thunderstorm light.

And started planning tomorrow's supper. Turns out, we've got some leftover smoked scallops.

Baked Eggs with Ratatouille Vegetables ♥

Baked Eggs with Ratatouille Vegetables @ AVeggieVenture.com ~ Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Paleo ~ Weight Watchers PointsPlus 6
graphic button small size size 10 Vegetables for Breakfast? You bet! Or for Meatless Monday? Naturally! Quickly cook some ratatouille vegetables (that's eggplant, zucchini and tomato for starters) and then top it with incredible-edible eggs. Weight Watchers Friendly, WW 6 PointsPlus. Low Cal. Gluten Free. Paleo. Vegetarian. Whole 30. Did I mention? So totally good! graphic button small size size 10

Um, so yeah, where were we? Not blogging, or even cooking, that's for sure.

In the past four weeks, I criss-crossed the country, racking up 5900 miles driving between St. Louis and North Carolina and back (for a day); St. Louis and the Texas Hill Country (hauling a furniture-filled U-Haul, a four-hundred pound rock and an after-wedding brunch for 25) and back (for two days); then St. Louis and northern Minnesota and back (for two days). Yikes. As if that weren't enough? Then we packed up eleven of us for a week in the hot sun and cool waves of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Twas all good but no surprise, right? I-Am-So-Ready-to-Be-Home.

And food-wise? Starved for vegetables! It's hard to get enough vegetables on the road. Salads are mostly insipid, side vegetables are just a few bites big and let's be real, who eats vegetables when cabana boys deliver pina coladas all day long?

This easy vegetable-packed egg dish was "dinner" our first night back from Mexico. I'd planned to top the ratatouille with salmon but ooops, somebody forgot to stop for salmon. Really and truly? The runny eggs atop the ratatouille vegetables were ever so delicious and way cheaper too.

Frosty pineapple-coconut cocktails? You've got real competition.

Afghan Eggplant & Tomato Casserole ♥ (Borani Banjan)

Afghan Eggplant & Tomato Casserole (Borani Banjan) ~ an explosion of tastes and textures and temperatures ~ Low-Carb & Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3 ~ Recipe @ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 Today's eggplant recipe: An explosion of tastes and textures and temperatures, just eggplant and tomato slices baked in a smoky tomato sauce and topped with a garlicky yogurt-mint sauce. Serve this great summer dish as a side dish or for a Meatless Monday entrée – or maybe like me, to explore Afghan cuisine.
Weight Watchers Friendly, just PointsPlus 3. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Vegetarian. graphic button small size size 10

So. As if there weren't already enough good reasons to belong to a book club. You know, like hanging out with life-long friends talking about books while drinking a nice glass of wine. And now? Discovering Afghan food. WOW.

My book club is a small group of women in our 40s, 50s and now, even 60s. We've been reading together for 21 years! (Here's our book list, for others looking for a great collection of book-club books.) We rarely tie our meal to the book we're reading but for some reason (fate? good luck? I must've done something right?), last month when we read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (he's the author of the wonderful book, The Kite Runner), at the last minute, I decided to try two recipes from Afghanistan.

And it turns out – WOW – both were excellent. I've even made both three times! And both are now on my list of "house recipes". Total keepers! The main dish that night was a dish called Kabeli Palau, it's an Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole bound together with caramelized onions (I know, I know, what a great concept!) and topped with a gorgeous mix of buttery carrots, currants and almonds. We love it with chicken but also with beef!

But this eggplant? Totally wonderful, an explosion of tastes and textures and temperatures. And the great news is, the two really work together too. So go make this, really.

Cauliflower 'Spanish Rice' ♥ Reader Recipe

Cauliflower 'Spanish Rice', looks and tastes like Spanish rice but it's made with cauliflower ~ low-carb, vegan, gluten-free and for Weight Watchers, PointsPlus 2 ~ @ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 It looks like Spanish Rice. It tastes like Spanish Rice. But really? It's made with cauliflower and tomatoes, that makes it a low-carb and high-fiber "rice" dish. Yahoo! Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated 2015~
~ republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

When my friend Sally from the Iowa blog Tip of the Iceberg mailed this recipe, she wrote, "I've used this recipe for years and it truly is excellent. I hope you can share it with the world." Verdict? It is truly excellent and Here, World, it is!

It looks like Spanish rice. It tastes like Spanish rice. And yet it's not made with rice, it's made with cauliflower. So it's a perfect choice for people who watch their carb intake for diets or diabetes. And good news, this doesn't taste like "diet food" – it's just plain good! And it looks so beautiful on a plate, too, adding color and texture, very pretty!

PS This isn't the first time I've used cauliflower to "fool" the table. Turns out, cauliflower can taste a lot like mashed potatoes, too, just see these Lighter Mashed "Potatoes" from Kitchen Parade, the recipe which prompted Sally to share hers. Thanks, Sally, your cauliflower "Spanish Rice" is a keeper!