BBQ Steak, Sweet Potato & Squash

IMG_5397
My family has re-discovered the outside patio area. We; well actually I wanted a sitting area on the patio. Not just any sitting area I wanted someplace where we can; after a long hard day of working we could sit and relax comfortably. I finally pulled the trigger on an outdoor couch and we LOVE it!  We make plans of when we could meet, what we are going to drink and who has to get up and make dinner.

IMG_5407

Looks pretty comfortable huh? 

With the nights already getting shorter meals have to be something quick to throw together just so no one has to be away from lounging on the patio for too long. What fun would it be if I spent an hour in the kitchen while they are out there chilling out. No fun at all.

IMG_5401

As long as the raw meat doesn’t touch the tray; you can use it to take everything off the grill

Here is something so surprisingly delicious but so crazy easy that anyone can make this meal and you won’t hear any complaints from the loungers

IMG_5402

I use a little tinfoil so I don’t lose the veggies

Steak – you cannot go wrong with Ribeyes
Squash – whichever kind you like or both
Sweet potato or whatever you have on hand
Large Onion peeled and sliced
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

IMG_5404

You still get grill marks even while using tinfoil

That’s it!  Take the steaks out before you start anything else, they are best when the come to room temperature; season liberally with Salt and Pepper and put aside.
Start the grill, Slice the veggies and potatoes. Season those with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Grab a sheet pan or whatever you use when you grill and head outside. I have a little plastic basket I put all the supplies I need like the plates, utensils and tinfoil etc. And I usually only have to come back in for a refill of my wine.

Have a wonderful long labor day weekend!

 

Garden Salad

Good morning and Happy Mother’s day!

IMG_0706

Looking forward to seeing this again this year!

My Mother’s day plans were to be spent in the garden but apparently Mother Nature had other plans. Unfortunately we are not supposed to see the sun until Tuesday; insert sad face here.

The gardens were on the agenda since the kids asked what I wanted to do today and I figured why not tick off something from my “to do” list. And the gardens need a lot of love to get ready for planting in a couple of weeks; and manual labor is a precious gift; to me anyway.  Many OK maybe 10ish years ago this was the weekend when I would go buy all my flowers for the porch and veggies for the garden but after losing more plants and money than I care to share I now wait until Memorial Day and then I go out and buy and plant everything I want. That seems to be the safest in this neck of the woods.

IMG_4438

Although yesterday; while it was still pretty nice out my husband got all the beds ready for planting and throwing caution to the wind he ended up planting a few things like potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, beets and shallots. I think we should be OK since they are in the soil versus a delicate plant above ground; though we will be watching the weather very closely.  I did see that 3 or 4 towns over awoke this morning to snow and power outages instead of rain YIKES!

IMG_4450

In anticipation of the yummy veggies coming out of our and possibly your hard work and dirty hands I want to re-share a quick and easy summer salad  that everyone loved.

 

IMG_4439

Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

 

Fried Brussel Sprouts & Piperade sauce

I wanted to give you all an update on my quest to like brussel sprouts! OK so that might not be the most exciting statement of the year, week or even day but I did come across another way that my husband will eat them.  My daughter and I actually do like them and would probably add them to my grocery shopping list a little more often if the faces and comments I get from my husband were a little less ummmm painful to see/hear.
IMG_5074

The other day my husband was at the grocery store with me; I’m not a fan of him going to the store with me; don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t end up spending me more money than I was thinking of spending. He’s like a little kid ooohh that looks yummy; and puts it in the cart. So I was grabbing the things that were on my list and yes there were brussel sprouts on it; he made a comment and a face and said several times that we really didn’t need them; such a child!
IMG_5085

My daughter had tried some fried brussel sprouts with a some red pepper sauce that she absolutely loved. Trying to recreate something we’ve had at a restaurant is kind of our thing. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. After making the sauce my first comment was; “where has this been all my life?” We all know the true test would be my husband. All I can say is my daughter and I both witnessed him finishing his plate AND reaching into the sprout bowl and grabbing a large one with his fingers and eating it.  YUP I win!!!!
IMG_5077

 

 

 

Piperade Sauce – definition below

Ingredients
3 plum tomatoes or use whatever you have on hand
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 red or green bell peppers (we used red because that is how Abbi had it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot Paprika or Espelette

Brussel Sprouts
Oil for frying
Balsamic vinegar
salt

Directions
using a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat, add the oil until hot but before it starts to smoke. add onions, peppers and the salt. saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and pepper start to lighten in spots; about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.
IMG_5078

Add the tomatoes and the paprika, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook till the tomatoes are starting to breakdown and the peppers are soft; about 15  minutes.
removing the cover and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, you want to let it thicken a bit. It should be the consistency of a slightly runny relish.  Adjust the salt and enjoy!
IMG_5084

Brussel Sprouts
prepare your sprouts by trimming off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice lengthwise. Fry them in batches in about and inch or so of oil. Drain, salt and place them in a bowl with the piperade sauce, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, stir and serve.
IMG_5086

IMG_5087IMG_5088

IMG_5090

Not my favorite picture to share but it tasted delicious!

wikipedia definition of Piperade
Piperade
(Gascon and French) or Piperrada (Basque and Spanish), from piper (pepper in Gascon and in Basque) is a typical Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéd and flavoured with red Espelette pepper.

 

 

Thyme and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I saw someone roasting a whole head of cauliflower on TV that looked SO good I wanted to try it. The other day I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge so I started looking for some ways to have this for dinner alongside a couple of Ribeye steaks I was making. Well lets just say baking a whole head of cauliflower takes far too long for my weeknight meal; especially since I was starting around 6:30ish. Unless I boiled it first it was going to be well over an hour in the oven. Since I had roasted cauliflower on brain I sliced it into large chunks added some sliced onion and a little garlic and some thyme roasted them in the oven for about 40 minutes.

img_4602 
It also worked out quite nicely that the oven was well pre-heated for finishing off my steaks in the oven once seared in my cast iron skillet. Dinner was awesome and we had the leftovers for lunch the next day score!!!

img_4597
If you have never roasted a vegetable; I can’t stress enough how it will change your life; OK no it’s not that revolutionary but it may make some youngsters; even some adults change their minds over eating their veggies. It makes carrots, beets, butternut squash and onions sweeter. It gives asparagus and broccoli a slightly charred taste. Potatoes have a wonderful crunch and it’s the only way I like brussel sprouts. A little olive oil, salt and pepper and you’re good to go; add an herb and you won’t be disappointed.
img_4599
img_4600

1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium onion sliced
1 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh sprigs
3-4 gloves of garlic kept whole
2-3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Toss the first four ingredients either on the sheet pan or if you prefer in a bowl. once on the sheet pan sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes. sprinkle with cheese toss and roast for another 10-15 minutes longer. 

Overgrown Summer Squash=Delish

This is the first time I can recall picking an enormous summer squash; zucchini I swear grows twice its size overnight and it’s not always my fault, summer squash I believe grows a little slower. I also get how I can miss a green zucchini but a bright yellow squash usually doesn’t get by me. I have never baked a bread or cake with a summer squash and the thought of all those large seeds just isnt appealing at all. I really don’t like throwing out; well anything so I went online to see how others dealt with their overgrown summer squash, I know I am not the only one that misses veggies in the garden.

IMG_4513
My son isn’t a fan of of summer squash in any way it is served but he said and I quote “it’s not too bad” which when I asked him to elaborate; he said he doesn’t like squash at all but this way “he didn’t mind it” I’ll take it. I have made this a couple of times this year; which is also an admittance that I missed more than one summer squash in the last couple of weeks; guilty!

IMG_4514
The first time I made this it was just me and my husband and his first question was did you remove the seeds? no I did not and we were both pleasantly surprised that you really don’t need to. It is also a very quick and simple way to make a side dish with ingredients you should have in your pantry and fridge. And it looks kind of cool too and tastes delicious.

1-2 Tbs Butter
Olive Oil
1 Onion 4-5 thin slices
Kosher Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Parsley
3-4 tsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Slice 4-5 elongated slices
Place small slices of butter all over the squash
Drizzle with a little olive oil
Cover with onions
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic and parsley
Cover with shredded parmesan and bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes at 375°F

Parmesan-Garlic Hasselback Zucchini

My garden has been pretty good to me this year with plenty of cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini. I really don’t want to talk about my non-existent eggplant or beefsteak tomatoes. Thankfully my cherry and roma tomato plants are picking up a little of the slack; and it also helps my husband has found a way to add tomato to his sandwich that he thinks works out pretty slick; he takes a bite of sandwich and pops a cherry tomato in his mouth and he likes that his sandwich stays dry. I say win win!

IMG_4455

Now how to get a win with someone who doesn’t like zucchini; which I can actually relate to; when I was growing up; besides my aversion to everything green; the only way I had zucchini and summer squash was steamed or boiled to death. I was reminded of this when I was talking with my dad last week about how I prepare versus how he prepares squash. I like mine on the al dente side and he likes his well on the mush side. No thank you!

IMG_4452Before this I had only made hasselback potatoes, never even thought about another vegetable before but why not?

IMG_4453Parmesan-Garlic Hasselback Zucchini

1 Tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or ½ tsp dried
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
4 small or 2 medium zucchini
⅓ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

IMG_4454Preheat grill or oven
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl
Make crosswise cuts every ½ inch along each zucchini. Make sure to slice almost to the bottom of the squash but not all the way through. I use a round handle of a wooden spoon to help me get the same size cuts. Gently fan the squash to make them a little wider.
Place a shaved piece of Parmesan in each of the cuts and then brush the oil mixture over the top.
Place the squash on a double layer of foil and grill (without turning) until browned and tender about 15 minutes.

IMG_4456

 

Adapted from Eating Well Magazine

Zucchini Chips and Zucchini Boats

If there were an Olympic event for harvesting the most cucumbers from just a few plants or growing the largest cabbage in a raised bed or even who can find and pick the best shaped squash; I think we could be in the running. Despite the drought and thanking my personal “water boy” my gardens are looking pretty damn good!

IMG_4469

 

 

IMG_4501

look how adorable my butternut squash are!!!

butternut1butternut2butternut3

Now comes the task of what to do with everything. Yesterday I spent the day baking zucchini bread that will last probably till next year, I actually did have to rotate last years bread to the front. I have also been kind of obsessed with fried Parmesan zucchini chips. I think I have made them at least 3 times in the last month; I also made a couple of zucchini hasselback packets for out on the grill. Last night I decided to use up some items I had in the fridge. When I was going through my freezer I noticed a container of last years processed tomatoes that I made into a nice Italian sausage marinara sauce, and there was a small container of ricotta cheese and yes many squashes to choose from.

The ingredients screamed zucchini boats; ya don’t ask me why that is what they said but I personally think it was because I didn’t want to make a full fledged lasagna out of them so I took the easy way out.

IMG_4503

Zucchini Boats

1-2 medium sized zucchini
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Handful of fresh parsley chopped
1-2 sweet Italian sausage casings removed; crumbled and cooked
Homemade or jarred marinara sauce
Mozzarella for the top

IMG_4493Zucchini cleaned, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise

IMG_4494

Using a spoon scoop out the flesh making sure to leave enough to hold the cheese and sauce.

Mix the ricotta, egg, parmesan and fresh parsley

IMG_4495

IMG_4496

Fill the zucchini with the ricotta mixture then cover with marinara sauce. Cover with mozzarella and bake at 350’F for 30-45 minutes.

IMG_4499

 

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

IMG_4468

 

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Panko*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced to 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

In a large bowl, combine Panko and Parmesan; set aside.

Working in batches, dredge zucchini rounds in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in Panko mixture, pressing to coat.

IMG_4464IMG_4465IMG_4466IMG_4467

Add zucchini rounds to the skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

Serve immediately.