My diet has been somewhat off the rails throughout the past several weeks.  A few of the unhealthy habits that I ditched when I started my weight loss campaign 18 months ago have crept their way back in. Likewise, some of the healthier rules I’ve developed have left on summer holiday.  Admittedly, math was never my gift but I look at it this way:  (margaritas + fudgesicles) – (steady running/weight training) = jelly belly + big frowny face, squared.  I did get an email from GAP this morning alerting me to the fact that high-rise jeans are about to come back into favor, so at least that’s good news for anyone who wants to disguise a summer-induced muffin top when fall rolls back around.

Haha, rolls.  Not funny at all actually.

When I need to get back on track diet wise, I turn to healthy soups.  You really can’t get much healthier than homemade gazpacho, and this recipe absolutely screams fresh.  Go light on the basil croutons and you’ll have it made in the shade, with wiggle room to spare for the naughty caloric indulgence of your choice.

Did someone say fudgesicles?

Scroll to the end of the post for a couple of other recipes suggestions that make great use of the current sale ad.  Have a great week!  : )

SHRIMP GAZPACHO WITH BASIL CROUTONS
SERVES: 4 as a first course
SOURCE:  epicurious.com

2 lbs. vine-ripened large tomatoes (about 5) chopped (stem tomatoes are on sale)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 c. peeled, seeded, finely chopped cucumber (seedless cucumbers are on sale and I never bother to peel them)
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 fresh jalapeno chile, chopped fine (wear gloves; remove the seeds and ribs if you’re worried about the heat)
2 T. red wine or sherry vinegar, or to taste
1/2 lb. small to medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (Sendik’s Shrimp Skewers are on sale; see note)

BASIL CROUTONS:
3/4 c. packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried well
3 T. olive oil
4 slices good quality sandwich bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes (I always use a Sendik’s French Baguette here, and they’re on sale this week)

FOR OPTIONAL GARNISH:
Finely diced cucumber and red bell pepper
Fresh basil leaves

In a blender or food processor puree half of the tomatoes, 1/2 cup bell pepper, 1/4 cup cucumber, 2 tablespoons onion, garlic paste, cumin, and jalapeno.  Transfer puree to a bowl and stir in remaining tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, and onion.  Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Chill gazpacho, covered, at least three hours and up to 1 day.

In a saucepan of generously salted boiling water boil shrimp 30 seconds, or until just cooked through.  Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl and cool.  Chop shrimp and stir into gazpacho.

Before serving, thin gazpacho with a little bit of ice water if desired.  Garnish individual serving bowls with croutons, diced cucumber and pepper, and fresh basil leaves.

FOR BASIL CROUTONS:
In a blender or small food processor purée basil and oil and season with salt  and pepper to taste.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  On a baking sheet toss bread with basil oil and bake in middle of oven, shaking baking sheet  occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes, or until croutons are golden brown and crisp.  Season croutons with salt and pepper. (Croutons may be made 3 days ahead and  kept in a sealable plastic bag in a cool dry place.) Makes about 2 cups.

A note about the shrimp:  I used about a half pound of thawed CenSea Shrimp here (little ones, like 90/100 count).  Sometimes I make this soup without any shrimp at all.  If you’d like to use the Sendik’s Shrimp Skewers that are on sale, they would be great brushed lightly with olive oil and grilled, then chopped and added to the soup.

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Now, assuming you’d like to cook dinner using sale ingredients this week, here are a couple of suggestions for you.  : )

Pan Seared Scallops with Orzo, Tomatoes, and Basil is an elegant and easy dinner that makes great use of the sale Wild Caught Jumbo Sea Scallops, stem tomatoes, and Barilla Pasta.  Pretty and delicious!  Just remember to pat your scallops dry (as dry as you can get them) before searing and don’t fiddle with them while they’re in the pan.

A few weeks ago I posted this Grilled Shrimp with Jalapeno-Garlic Vinaigrette.  Since the shrimp are already skewered for you AND they’re on sale, you might want to make this one again.  Just keep in mind your grilling time will be slightly shorter than what’s listed in the recipe since the shrimp are smaller and already peeled for you.  This one  is perfect for weekend entertaining.

Blogs, Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | August 1st, 2013