Bright Summery Veggie Cucumber Bites

These bites are an old friend, my first and favorite way of enjoying salad fixings.

Take an English cucumber and cut into 2-inch slices. Scoop out some but not all of the seeds and center, so you create cups. 

Fill with diced veggies of choice, either sautéed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, or cold and tossed with a light, citrusy vinaigrette.

Toasty Quesadilla with Charred Corn, Sautéed Romaine and Veggies

It’s a hot and rainy Summer day, and I had all sorts of wonderful things for making a salad. But I’ve been eating cold salads for days now, and wanted to find a way to have the same ingredients a bit warmer.

Romaine is a cookable green that can act as a substitute for Escarole, either sautéed or added to a soup. There’s been an abundance of gorgeous Romaine at the local market, and I went a little overboard this weekend, so I started thinking of what I could make that would be a substantial meal while still being Summery.

This quesadilla enjoys the flavors of colorful carrots, peppers and corn, but any veggies and grains you prefer work great as well! 
Toasty Quesadilla with Charred Corn, Sautéed Romaine and Veggies

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 cloves garlic, sliced or minced

1 small onion, rough chop

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 stalk celery, rough chop

1/2 bell pepper of choice, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as chives or dill

1 medium head Romaine lettuce, thoroughly soaked and rinsed, then chopped

1 cup corn kernels (off the cob or frozen work best)

2 tortillas of choice

1/2 cup grated melty cheese, such as pepper jack, Monterey, cheddar, or mozzarella

One small frying pan

One large frying pan

1. Place your corn in the small frying pan with no oil, and toast on medium heat until charred. Set aside in a bowl.

2. In this same pan, now add the carrot and pepper and also toast on medium heat until charred. Add to the bowl with the corn.

3. In the large frying pan, place the oil, garlic, onion, salt and spices. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently until the garlic has gotten fragrant, at least 5 minutes.

4. Add the celery and chopped Romaine and cook until the celery is a bright green and the Romaine has wilted. Add to the bowl, and stir to combine.

5. Place one tortilla into the smaller frying pan, add 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 cup of the veggie mixture to one half of the tortilla, and fold tortilla over.

6. Toast for one minute or until golden on each side of the tortilla.

7. Repeat with the second tortilla. 

Any leftover veggies are perfect served with chicken, beans and rice, or tofu.

Splendid Sundog!

I was walking the Lake with one of my nephews, trying to enjoy the mild Autumn weather that was preceding a Nor’easter. We spotted a cute little rainbow in the water and looked up to see the real deal. Then we stared for probably 15 minutes, as did just about everyone else who saw this…


Spiced Peanut-Curry Veggie Noodles with Sweet Peppers


Happy 50th Anniversary!!!! Or, at least, Happy 50th Post-versary. 😘

In honor of this ”monumental” occasion, I’m making veggie noodles for my work lunches. For some reason, I love pairing veggie noodles with peanut sauces rather than tomato or cream, and I recently got a delicious curry spice blend that goes really well with peanuts or, in this case, peanut powder.

This sauce goes equally well with the zucchini, summer squash and pepper ‘noodles’ as I did here, or with rice or traditional pasta.

Aren’t you glad you’re here for all of this excitement?

Spiced Peanut-Curry Veggie Noodles with Sweet Peppers
(c) 2016 Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Yield: approximately 1 1/2 cups


~ 2 tablespoons olive oil
~ 1 large clove garlic, sliced
~ pinch red pepper flakes or more to taste
~ 1 teaspoon each turmeric and curry spice blend
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~ 1/4 cup peanut butter powder
~ 1/2 cup water, stock or unsweetened tea
~ 1 each zucchini and summer squash, sliced thin with a vegetable peeler or spiralized
~ 1/2 cup bell peppers of choice (I used four mini sweet bell peppers)


1. Place the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, turmeric and curry powder in a medium size frying pan. Cook on low-medium heat until it becomes fragrant, stirring continually to keep the garlic from burning.

2. Add in the liquid, salt and peanut butter powder and stir to combine, adding more if needed. Raise heat to medium and get a gentle bubbling.

3. Toss in the veggies and stir to combine and coat. Cook until heated through, about 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with fresh parsley, serve immediately or cool and enjoy cold!

Watermelon Berry Gazpacho


For some reason, this morning I woke up with an incredible amount of energy, so I decided to cook until the energy ran out, hopefully generating some edible meals and snacks for the work week.

In addition to baking Oh She Glows’ wonderful Chia Seed Bread (which is *so* worth checking out here: I made breakfast and some frozen treats, as seen here:

and then I used some of the fruit which is so abundant at this time of year to make a refreshing fruit gazpacho. Traditional Gazpacho is such a wonderful way to enjoy seasonal vegetables, and fruits make a delicious substitute.

Not only that, this is as simple as blending until your ingredients are smooth, and seasoning to taste. In this recipe, I made the dish savory with basil, mint and a hint of salt, but sweetening with honey and adding a hint of lemon is equally tasty!

Watermelon Berry Gazpacho
(c) 2016 Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups


3 cups chopped watermelon
1-16 ounce package strawberries, washed and de-stemmed or other berries if preferred
2 tablespoons dried mint or 2 teaspoons fresh mint
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 leaves fresh basil
Pinch salt
Freshly-brewed, cooled, unsweetened tea as needed, starting with 1/2 cup


1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and slowly pulse until combined. If you need, add more unsweetened tea or water if preferred, until you get your desired texture.

2. Transfer to a container and taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.

3. Cover and chill for 1 hour or up to overnight. Serve garnished with more fresh fruit.

This gazpacho will last in the fridge for a few days, or up to 1 month in the freezer.


Peanut Butter Banana Berry Breakfast Pudding


So, if you’ve been viewing my latest cooking experiments, you are probably wondering if I ever enlist unbiased food tasters, and I do! Recently, my best advisor (otherwise known as my sister in law 😉) suggested that my version of peanut butter ice cream:🍨-three-ingredient-peanut-butter-ice-cream-🍨-with-pbj-ice-cream-sandwiches/

wasn’t sweet or peanutty enough, so I went back to the kitchen today to make some changes.

Adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla, more PB powder, and using both a 2% yogurt and a fat free yogurt, gives a much richer flavor. Of course, if you want to also add 2 tablespoons of honey, you’ll feel like you’re savoring a decadent dessert!

This dish is great both frozen as an ice cream and ice cream sandwich filling, or simply cooled in the fridge as a fruit dip and in breakfast overnight grain parfaits like the one featured above.


Peanut Butter Banana Berry Breakfast Pudding
(c) 2016 Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 5 minutes
(Optional) Freezer time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups


2 medium ripe bananas
1-5.3oz container plain fat free yogurt
1-5.3oz container plain 2% yogurt
6 tablespoons peanut butter powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(Optional) 2 tablespoons honey
(Optional) 1/4 cup washed and de-stemmed berries of choice
(Optional) 1/4 cup seeds of choice (I used a blend of chia, hemp and flax seeds)
(Optional) 1/4 cup oatmeal or 5-grain cereal


1. Place all but the optional ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined and smooth.

2. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or sandwich between your favorite cookie or treat, and freeze for 10 minutes. OR…

3. Layer the pudding with the optional ingredients, placing any leftover pudding either the in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container. In the former you should eat it within a few days, but in the freezer it will last for up to a month.