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Baked Doughnuts For Everyone: From Sweet to Savory to Everything in Between, 101 Delicious Recipes, All Gluten-Free

 

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Monday
Jul162012

strawberry basil avocado cream dressing

I’m coming to you a little late on this lovely Monday morning.  I had plans for a full Sunday of photo editing [from a few portrait sessions] + working on this post.  It was going to be a productive day.

What happened instead was a full day of manual labor.  Productive, but in a different sort of way.

Saturday morning, Chris got the idea we needed to start a new yard project.  Our porch is about 90% done but we’re at a bit of a stopping point until we get a water line moved underneath the house.  So why not start something new?  Let’s bust up a 7’ x 20’ foot space of concrete in front of our house!  Instead of planting grass in the tree lawn area, someone got the brilliant idea to pour 4” of concrete there instead.  Less maintenance I suppose??  Multiply 7’ x 20’ then by a 4” depth and that is a lot of concrete.  It’s also too much math for a Monday morning.

Chris started with a sledge hammer and tried to bust it out manually.  Four hours later we decided to rent a jack hammer.  So our Sunday consisted of breaking apart and hauling all of that concrete about 20’ into our yard, to at some point pile into a truck to take to a concrete recycling center.  I don’t think I’ll be lifting weights for the next 3 weeks!

When that was all finished we filled the empty space with dirt.  A lot, lot, LOT of dirt.  We are hoping lay mulch and plant a tree in the next few days.  Even just with the dirt, the space looks so much better.  Definitely worth the time and energy.

Now can I totally change gears and talk about our garden?

The photo below would have you believe it’s doing quite well, right?

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Or not.

Here is the embarrassing zoomed out view.

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We have 2 rainbow chard plants that are thriving, two cucumber plants [far right] that are trucking along, and a pepper plant [far left] that has somehow survived.

Surrounding the largest pepper plant are 3 other types pepper plants that are holding on on for dear life.  A few weeks ago they looked like goners but are somehow making a comeback. 

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The cucumbers were the last seeds I planted and popped up pretty fast. 

I planted seeds in all but 1 or 2 squares, so there definitely should have been a lot more green veggies growing in these photos.

So what do I think happened?

#1] I have no clue what I’m doing.

#2] The summer conditions have been extreme, even for Colorado.  Temperatures were in the 100’s for over a week and are now consistently in the mid 90’s.  We also had a few months with almost zero rain.  Finally, about a week ago we had a few consistent storms.

And then I realized…

#3] I was totally under watering my poor veggies!  I was so afraid of over watering that I managed to exactly the opposite.  It’s so hard to know how much to water and it really varies depending on your location.  I was watering everyday in the early evening but definitely not enough.

Once we had a week of water the cucumbers, chard, and peppers all started to thrive. 

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A good friend told me it was totally doable to plant more lettuce this time of year.  So I decided to bust out my butter lettuce, romaine, kale, and chard seeds and get to planting.  In just 3-4 days they started popping! 

During my first planting it took over 2 weeks to see any green! 

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This is a small spinach plant from the first round of planting about 2.5 months ago.  Nice of you to finally show!

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I was on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting the day I could harvest something from the garden.  Rainbow chard was first up!

The leaves were tender + buttery.

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The stems were crisp + colorful.

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I typically cook chard in a pan and add a little butter + salt.  However, I wanted to enjoy these vibrant green leaves in their raw form. 

I grabbed a handful of basil, chopped some strawberries, halved an avocado, and threw it all in the blender.  With a few squeezes of lemon juice, salt + pepper, this creamy summer dressing was born.

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Print this!

Strawberry Basil Avocado Cream Dressing [yields ~3/4 cup]

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp chopped basil, loosely packed
  • 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender, food processor, or magic bullet and process until creamy and smooth.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Taste and add more salt/pepper/maple syrup if desired.
  3. Keep refrigerated for 4-5 days in a sealed container.

The chard leaves were mixed with baby spinach and topped with herbed goat cheese, pepitas, and fresh Colorado cherries.  The sweet + savory of the dressing paired well with these toppings.

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Kind of a long post for such a short recipe. 

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But hopefully it was worth the wait.

Ashley

--  Also, check out my latest post at Ashley McLaughlin Photography.  One of my best friends Melissa and her adorable family are front + center on the photo blog today!

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Reader Comments (17)

The chard looks amazing, as does the dressing. Avocado is a great sub for some healthy creaminess. I'll definitely have to check out your photography site! I didn't even know you had one.
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren
The rainbow chard from your garden looks great! I would have never thought about combining avacado, strawberry and basil together for a dip. Great idea! I'm going to pass it along to the BF for our next get together with friends. Thanks.
-Michelle
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle @ live loudly
Homegrown chard sounds awesome...and it looks so fresh too!
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
strawberries or cherries? haha. Sound refreshing and summery, and I love the few photos from the shoot!

Ashley--> Strawberries in the dressing, cherries on the salad. Haha...way to make things confusing, huh?
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie @KatieDid
that orchard looks great! I've always love to have my own orchard at home. I think the salad looks delicious with the new strawberry basil avocado cream dressing.
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMagaret M.
oops, I see what you mean, the strawberries are in the dressing and the cherries in the salad duh!

Ashley--> Hahaha, yes! I see how that could have been confusing though!! :) I ran out of strawberries to top the salad.
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie @KatieDid
I love strawberries and avocados!! I'm pinning this recipe right now. It's sounds fabulous!!
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim@hungryhealthygirl
I am dying over that stunning swiss chard!! Well done on the garden, I would have killed everything off right off the bat, LOL
I love how you can just whip up a dressing in a snap :) I can't wait until we finally have local strawberries, the weather here has been crazy too so they're quite late. Hopefuly this weekend!
Every year we plant a garden and every year we curse the Texas heat because everything dies. The only thing that is thriving are the jalapenos. Go figure. :)
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
I loved the dressing you used in your lemon avocado dill pasta salad- totally made me a believer in avocado-based dressings! I've never tried a strawberry-basil flavor combo, but it sounds fantastic!

Ashley--> That's the recipe that started my obsession!! Glad you enjoyed it!
So jealous of your garden!!
Beautiful pictures as always.
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCait's Plate
Your recipe sounds wonderful and so summer-y! You are always so creative with your food, and I appreciate your generosity in always sharing them with us.

Your garden looks about like mine. It was my first time too (I think geraniums are the only green things that have ever done well under my care --they must be impossible to kill! lol). After reading your post on the soil mix you used, we went and bought some too, hoping it would put an end to my brown thumb. Seemed foolproof. I was so hopeful. But it was soooo hot here, like you said. And because I've always drowned my houseplants and potted flowers in the past, I got a bit paranoid about over-watering after being warned against it by the biochemist...so I went in the opposite direction, but nothing was doing well. And then the thunderstorms a few weeks ago provided some 'over-watering' and things started to grow --an 'ah-ha' moment for me. But just a bit too late because then a hail storm proved devastating to the few things that appeared to be growing (can't imagine being a farmer and have everything wiped out in a few moments' time). ;( A lot of the struggling veggie starts we had bit the dust, but the rainbow chard is making a comeback (mine looks about like yours, so I'm encouraged!) and I have a few other things that look like they're trying to make it...unfortunately, they will probably not be ready to harvest until it's about time for the fall weather. *sigh* If I actually get to harvest anything, I'll be so thrilled! ;) If nothing else, I guess it's been a good learning experience (although a very expensive one). The really BIG problem we have is grasshoppers --they're eating/destroying EVERYthing!! Do you have that problem, and, if so, do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of those (without chemicals)?

Sorry to write such a LONG comment. Just thought I'd let you know you're not alone with your gardening struggles...and also wanted to pick your brain a bit since you're always so gracious about sharing. ;)
Many thanks!

Ashley--> No worries on the long comment! I'm sorry you haven't had the best luck with your garden this year either. I'm hoping the lettuce I just planted keeps chugging along. We actually haven't had any grasshopper or other insect problems yet, so I have no recommendations. I have heard of spraying on soap and water, but I would definitely look into that more!
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristi
This looks so delicious! I don't usually like creamy dressings at all, but I love avocado-based dressing. I've been enjoying a lot of salads lately, so this will be a perfect way to add a little more variety. Thanks for the recipe!
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKerry
Our garden is NOT doing well this summer - I blame it on the ridiculous heat we are having. It's not very conducive to growing!
My wife and I have been in a HUGE avocado funk lately, definitely going to have to share this with her. Thanks!

Ashley--> Enjoy!!
July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWeight Loss Trainer
Haha you're not alone - I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to gardening either. Luckily my romaine and cucumbers have done well, but everything else is looking pretty bad. I'm jealous your Swiss chard looks so good - mine is getting eaten by something! :( Did you use anything (natural or not) to protect your plants from insects?

Ashley--> Sorry to hear about your garden!! Our cucumbers are coming along. I cannot wait to pickle them! :) We haven't had any problems with insects, so unfortunately I have no recommendations. Sorry!!
my garden is having issues as well. My first year gardening i had so many veggies i didn't know what to do. and now in our new home with the garden it's hit or miss. no leady greens have sprouted yet and my squash plants are giving up the will to live :( and hardly any tomatos! tho i did have an abundance of raspberries. that and the stupid ground squirrels don't help matters.
July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonia the Mexigarian

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