Go Grill! Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Burgers, that is…

Just look at that juicy, flavor-packed burger with oozy blue cheese and balsamic glazed onions tumbling out of it. Who wouldn't want to eat that?

Don’t get me wrong, I still love beef, but especially in the summer months I do like to eat a little lighter for the most part. One of my favorite items to grill is my recipe for Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Burgers with Balsamic Glazed Onions. I know what you’re thinking. “Turkey Burgers, oooooh, those are so dry. Not juicy and not a good substitution for good ole’ ground chuck!” I beg to differ. I’ve shared this recipe with a friend who said just that, and once he and his wife tasted these, they changed their minds completely, and it’s become part of their cooking repertoire. Continue reading

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A Little Taste of the Mediterranean

Mediterranean Pasta Salad finished with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

I’ve always loved a great pasta salad, full of fresh ingredients and lightly dressed. Last night I felt inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean and decided to make my pasta salad by the same name. It’s easy, makes a lot, and keeps for several days. This recipe has been the hit of many a party or pot luck gathering, and is a pretty and filling summer entree all by itself. You can find the full recipe here and the step by step is below. Mangia!

To your cooked pasta, add scallion or shallot, parsley, arugula, fresh tomatoes and Kalamata olives. But don't stir yet!

Then add the artichoke hearts with the marinade, sun-dried tomatoes with 1/4 cup of their oil, the tuna and it's oil, and then stir to combine. Lastly add the feta cheese, salt and pepper and stir again. Chill to blend the flavors and eat!

Cool as a Cucumber

A cup of coolness, cucumber soup.

Mmmmm. This past weekend brought us some much needed rain, a few breezes and a very slight breather in the heat wave we’ve experienced this summer. But it’s still in the 90’s, and anything that has the word “chilled” as part of its name, gets my attention. We had some very pretty little cucumbers in this week’s CSA box of summer goodness, and I’ve made a quick, easy and delicious Chilled Cucumber Soup. And since my mission is to come up with delicious ways to use up all of that goodness, I made another tomato pie Saturday night—a variation on my last one that I’ll call Tomato Pie II—using a pound of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes and some beautiful organic red onions, along with some fresh basil and thyme, a little wine and some gooey-good soft goat cheese—and we had some leftover pie along with the soup, since tomatoes and cucumbers go together so wonderfully well. Continue reading

A Superb Summer Sandwich: Pan Bagnat

Recently, Pan Bagnat has come back across my radar. What a wonderful summer sandwich it is, and why haven’t I made it in such a long time? I believe the first time I tasted it was in the south of France, where it’s very common and you can find many different versions of it. It tasted so good on a hot summer day, was easy to make, and I made it many times right after we returned. But as time marched on, I somehow forgot about it. Then, just last week, I saw a post on a blog in France about Pan Bagnat made with fresh produce from a Mediterranean garden, and it looked so yummy that it brought the taste back to me, and I’ve been craving it. Continue reading

We’re Jammin’

Each year I see all these wonderful recipes for canned goodies—homemade pickles, relishes, chutney, jams, marmalades, conserves, preserves, jellies, sun-dried tomatoes—and I SO long to make my own and try them out, give them as gifts to friends, and have a bit of summer sunshine stored for my own winter pantry.

But there’s been a problem: contemplating the process has caused great fear and trepidation in my soul. Even though it’s one of the most common ways to preserve homegrown foods, and is quite a simple process handed down through generations of folks, I just have not been able to bring myself to attempt it. So why all the angst? In three words: sterilization, pasteurization and the worst thought of all, botulism. Doing anything connected with those words made me want to run in the opposite direction. Continue reading

Staying Cool with a Classic

Sometimes when dinnertime rolls around, I feel like just sticking with the basics, and I seem to be in that kind of mood this week. Here’s another simple recipe for summer, that has a little kick of spice to it, but cools you down at the same time: Classic Curried Chicken Salad. For those who can’t eat curry, I’ve added a non-curry variation to the recipe, too,  substituting tarragon for the curry and pecans for the almonds in the form of a Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad. Both make a wonderful main dish for a hot summer night. And if there’s just two of you, there will be more for tomorrow. Joy!

seedless red grapes

chopped celery

toasted slivered almonds

roasted chicken breast

Taters 101, 2, 3

Tiny red potatoes and rosemary

All dressed up and ready for the oven.

Roasted and ready to eat!

Who doesn’t love a good ‘tater? Baked. Boiled. Smashed. Grilled. Fried. Sauteed. Salad-i-fied. Totted. Roasted.

‘Tis the season for new potatoes and fingerlings, and one of my favorite and quickest ways to prepare them is roasted. With a little scrub, a few quick cuts, a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a few fresh herbs you may have on hand, you can eat restaurant-style potatoes any day of the week. And by changing your herbs, changing your cut, adding a little garlic powder, paprika or cayenne, a little onion and bell pepper—or combos of the above—you can have a completely different side dish customized for whatever meal you’re making.

Last night we had these rosemary roasted potatoes as a side to souvlaki and tzatziki. I usually make a frittata with any leftover potatoes, if I have them—adding some veggies, cheese and sometimes a little ham to the mix—because potatoes and eggs are so good together. Here’s a basic technique for roasted potatoes with variations, and an easy way to “bake” potatoes on the grill. Also try roasting or grilling potatoes for your next vinaigrette-based potato salad.

What’s your favorite easy spud preparation? Do tell…

Related Links:  Souvlaki, Tzatziki

Chill Out

A big story here in the South this week is the record high summer temperatures—as is the case with many parts of the country—and finding some way, any way, to beat the heat is a high priority.

Last night, all I wanted for dinner was something cool and salad-ish, and I already had some fresh butterbeans that I’d picked up at the market. My good friend Diane is a great cook, and one fine summer day she served me a brilliant and inspired dish called Butterbean Salad at her house, which has been my favorite way to eat butterbeans ever since. This salad made from cooked fresh butterbeans, sweet jarred roasted red peppers, red onion, fresh basil leaves and feta cheese—all tossed with a simple vinaigrette—is just plain wonderful. Cool and summery, it goes with just about anything from burgers to veggies, or even an all-salad meal. Continue reading

Savoring Summer’s Tomatoes

Summer Tomato Caprese Pie

Tomatoes. Let me count some of the ways these wonders of summer can be used. There are BLT’s, roasted tomatoes, pastas, Caprese salad, salsas, a slice on your favorite sandwich or burger, and just plain sliced by themselves with a little salt and pepper—the versatility of the tomato is endless. Continue reading

Squashed.

So, if you read my CSA post from last week, you’ll remember I had squash in the box (sounds like a band name), and last night I squashed it into a casserole.

Squashed squash with onions and peppers.

When I was little I was like a lot of kids…I wouldn’t eat squash. It smelled bad, it looked funny and yuck! It was a VEGETABLE! My mom kept working on me though, and eventually came up with a recipe for a squash casserole featuring lots of cheese, and I started thinking: “hey, this squash stuff isn’t too bad.”

Nowadays it’s one of my favorite vegetables, and I so look forward to the fresh squashes that come with summer because they can and do provide some mighty fine eating. In addition to the ubiquitous yellow squashes and zucchini, some of the great heirloom varieties of summer squashes like Pattypan are now readily available, too. Continue reading