Remember summer? Me neither. Don't we need a little reminder? Yes, I think so.

The Simple Southwestern Salad is so easy, refreshing and tasty. It is the perfect compliment to the cheese enchiladas I shared a few weeks ago. Plus, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already!

Simple Southwestern Salad with Corn and Avocado
Source: Real Simple
Serves 4

2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into pieces
2 ears of corn, with kernels cut off (please don't use frozen corn, it would make the salad bland and lack texture. But it is your salad, maybe you prefer salads like that!)
2 avocados (cut into cubes, I just halved mine because I was in a hurry, and I'm lazy.)
1 15.5 ounce pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
a handful fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
tortilla chips

Combine the lettuce, corn, avocados, beans, onion and cilantro in a large bowl.

Mix together oil, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl or shake it together in a mason jar.

Toss the salad with the dressing and serve with some tortilla chips on the side. I like to crumble them up and mix them into the salad. Yummmm.
I made bread!!! and it's sooo gooooooood! but it's even easier than it is good, which is a lot! Can you tell I'm excited about this recipe? Jim Lahey, a baker in New York City developed it and the Times calls it "revolutionary" because of its "combination of great crumb, lightness, incredible flavor...and an enviable, crackling crust, the feature of bread  that most frequently separates the amateurs from the pros." Are you excited yet?! Don't you want to make this bread right now?! Well don't go preheating your oven yet, because that part doesn't come until 20 hours from now. Yes, what makes this bread so fabulous is that you needn't knead it, because the long time for rising does the work that is normally done by kneading. Does it sound like I know what I'm talking about? Because I don't. I just followed the directions. If you're interested in the science you should read the Times article linked above, very interesting! Ok let's get down to it.
In a large bowl stir together 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour in 1 5/8 cups of water and mix together with a spatula or your hands just until the dough comes together. It won't be pretty, don't worry. You can't really mess this up, for instance I thought that 1/4 teaspoon yeast was entirely too little and instead put in a whole packet, as if I knew more than a master baker. But the bread still turned out amazing so again, don't worry no matter how ugly your dough looks at first.
Put some plastic wrap over it and let it sit for 18 hours. When it's ready it'll look like this, with little bubbles all over. Pour the dough onto a floured surface. The dough will be very sticky so add some flour on top so it doesn't stick to your hands. Flatten it a bit with your hands, then fold it over onto itself twice and shape it into a ball.
On a cotton towel (not terry cloth) sprinkle some cornmeal or wheat bran. Put the dough on it seam side down. Sprinkle some more cornmeal or wheat bran on top and fold the towel to cover the dough. Let it sit for another 2 hours. After 1 hour and 30 minutes have passed, put a heavy bottomed pot with a lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
It should be a lot bigger after 2 hours. Starting to look like bread huh?
 Now carefully take the hot pot out of the oven and plop the dough into it with the seam side up. Mine didn't have much of a seam, but that's okay.
Put the lid back on the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Then take the lid off and bake for 15 more minutes or until bread is browned, up to 30 minutes. 
Let cool on a rack and then stare at it. Is it not the most beautiful loaf of bread you ever saw, and all the more beautiful because you made it? Note the delicious caramel color of the crust, the subtle grid pattern left by your cotton towel, the artful contrast between the cornmeal and the crust. Once you have fully savored this moment and have taken a few pictures for posterity, you may cut into your bread.
Gasp! Even more to admire! Look at all those air bubbles! Feel the weight of the bread in your poorly manicured fingers. Just the right consistency for absorbing an italian seasoned olive oil.
Check out this monster sandwich. What a great picture, it looks like it's attacking you! The only downside to this bread, (is it even a downside?) is that the crust leaves a lot of crumbs, you can see them all over the background in this picture. You're gonna have to sweep your kitchen floor after slicing this bread. But that is just the price you pay for a crust that "separates the amateurs from the pros!"

Recipe source: New York Times
Today's post is in honor of my dad, whose recipe this is! This sauce is very simple and delicious, this is all you need:
4 roasted red bell peppers, 3 garlic cloves, 4 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. That's right! No tomatoes, onions, cream, or basil, you don't even have to cook it! 

My dad insists on roasting your own red bell peppers. To do so, put bell peppers in a pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then place the peppers in a paper parcel (or bag). Roll up the end of the bag to seal it a bit and let steam for 15 minutes. After the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the seeds and peel the skin off.

Or, you could buy roasted red bell peppers, already seeded and peeled, in a can. You'll need two 12 oz. cans to equal 4 peppers. There are a few downsides to purchasing pre-prepared peppers. Primarily, the peppers will probably have preservatives and additives like sugar, which you can avoid by roasting the peppers yourself. Also, the sauce tastes better if the peppers are fresh.

I usually use the jarred peppers, just for convenience. I like to keep a few jars of red peppers handy so I can make this sauce whenever I want. It's a staple around here. 

Thanks for sharing this and many other recipes with me, Dad! I have so many great memories of preparing family meals with you. Thanks for spending that time with me. I love you!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pasta Sauce
serves 6+

4 roasted red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Add the red peppers, garlic, salt and pepper to a blender. Drizzle in the olive oil and puree until it is the consistency you want. Taste and add salt and pepper (or more garlic) if desired.

This is phenomenal tossed with 1 lb of linguine and sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. I bet it would also be good in quinoa with basil and mozzarella, or even served with grilled chicken. 
I love this recipe from Noble Pig! There are so many great things about it. It is not your typical tortilla soup, or at least not the typical soup I've ordered at many a Mexican restaurant in Texas. For one thing, it is vegan and gluten free! (Note: Apparently some Vegetable Broths are gluten free and some are not, so it depends on what kind you buy.) For another thing, it is very customizable depending on how much time you have to prepare it. You could use all fresh vegetables you prepared yourself or use canned or frozen veggies, or a mix of both, which is what I did. 

Use the link above for the exact recipe, I will just give you a few tips and possible substitutions.