Potluck Picnic with Chilled Gazpacho

Potluck Picnic with Chilled Gazpacho

Welcome to my Potluck Picnic … a weekly newsletter containing an assortment of
recipes, tips, humor and stories to inspire you to appreciate, cook, eat and share good food.
So pull up a chair and join the conversation!


quote of the week

JOY: gladness not based on circumstance


on the foodie trail

The Jersey Summer Sour

I shutter to even share this picture (get it … shutter?). The picture is nice enough but it isn’t nice enough. This cocktail deserves a better photographer and a second round.

  1. Start with fresh blueberries (I told you this picture wasn’t perfect) … or as they say in Jersey, “bloobs”.
  2. Vodka is next and, in this case, something called “Jersey Lightening” (got your attention there, didn’t I?).
  3. Add more vodka, this time something called “Summer Amaro”. Yes, I had to Google this one and as far as I can tell, it is a vodka that has been sweetened and infused with the herbs, spices and fruits of summer. Each description I found had different ingredients. If you know anything, anything at all, about Amaro, please share!
  4. Pine. That’s all it said on the menu. I am guessing that is the line of sprinkles on top of the drink. Maybe it is grated juniper berries? Makes me want to try that on my next gin and tonic!
  5. Frothy egg whites top it off! They remind me of the moment you take a sip of hot cocoa and the  foam at the top gives you a mustache? Only in the middle of summer!

This beverage revelation comes to you courtesy of my favorite Jersey-girl/niece, Khristine, and a place called “The Farm and Fisherman Tavern” in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I’ve just returned from a long weekend of eating, laughing and making memories with this gal and her sweet daughter. My nephew is deployed for a year with the Army National Guard and I hope our time together helped to fill a little of their time apart. Can’t wait till we are all together again!


what’s up in the garden

Everything is not “coming up roses” in my garden. I like to post pretty pictures of all that is thriving and pretty but there are struggles too. Blight and bugs are wreaking havoc on my cucumber vines, tomato plants and even my beautiful Red Malabar Spinach.

I trimmed a lot of branches and leaves off of my tomato plants to try and prevent the blight from spreading. That effort reduced the shade on the tomatoes themselves and now they have sunburn. I feel like I forgot to put sunscreen on my kids!

I want you to know that I believe in moderation, in gardening, in eating (most of the time), in life. Therefore, I am not a certified organic gardener. I do not easily jump to chemical applications. Trying age-old remedies (like water, baking soda and dish soap) are not excluded. I just want to avoid making mistakes that damage the fruits of my labor (again with the puns … apologies).

If you have any suggestions/tips/tricks/advice, I would be most grateful if you would share. Remember, this is a potluck picnic: I value your input!


this week’s recipe: Gazpacho

I first discovered gazpacho in a very lovely setting: a table next to the ocean in Key West surrounded by my mom, two aunts and one of my cousins. That was over 10 years ago and I’ve been thinking about it and trying to replicate it ever since. I’ve had a few good attempts along the way but nothing has ever come close to giving me that oh-my-goodness-you-have-to-try-this taste. Until now.

I found a recipe and, as always, tweaked it a bit and here it is! I’m not eating it next to the ocean but it sure brings back great memories with amazing ladies.

Gazpacho: Chilled Summer Vegetable Soup

This chilled, vegetable soup is the perfect way to use fresh summer vegetables. No cooking required! Serve it as a first course with tortilla chips or crusty garlic bread or as a main dish with a grilled cheese or a BLT.
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 15 mins
Servings 2 quarts


  • 4 cups tomato juice see note
  • 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes see note
  • 2 cups peeled and diced cucumber
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced jalapeño see note
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano crushed
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • plain greek yogurt


  • In a large bowl, combine tomato juice and diced tomatoes.
  • Pulse the cucumbers, red onion, red pepper, jalapeño and garlic, individually (see note) in a food processor until finely chopped. Add to tomato mixture.
  • Add olive oil, zest of one lime, lime juice, white balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, cumin and oregano. Stir.
  • Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • Stir again and taste. Add salt (1/2 teaspoon at a time) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon at a time) to taste.
  • Serve with fresh cilantro and a dollop of plain greek yogurt.


If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of fresh tomatoes, use them for the "juice", as well as the "fresh", in this recipe. To make 4 cups of "juice", you will need 6-7 cups of peeled and cut fresh tomatoes. Use a hot-water-bath method to peel the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into pieces and place in a stock pot with one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes. The "liquid" will rise to the top and the "solids" will sink to the bottom when the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree. A blender will also work but cool the tomatoes first and work in smaller batches. Cool completely and chill before adding other ingredients.
Dice the fresh tomatoes as small as possible. Tomatoes can also be pulsed in a food processor.
Remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeño for less heat.
If you put all of the vegetables into the food processor at the same time, the vibrant colors will blend into a very dull and unappetizing shade of brown.
Keyword cucumber, healthy, jalapeno, lime, peppers, simple, soup, tomatoes


if you haven’t tried this one yet …

Gyro Meatball Salad

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I love meatballs. This recipe for gyro meatballs has become a family favorite. There are enough meatballs to not only fill your pita bread or create this salad, but also to freeze some for a quick meal another day!

Gyro Salad with Meatballs

what can you bring to the next potluck picnic?

Comment below in the “LEAVE A REPLY” box to share:

  1. name a song that brings you joy? one that makes you chair-dance wherever you are?
  2. what is your favorite summer beverage?
  3. any suggestions/tips/tricks/advice for my garden probs??


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