Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stuff Your (face) Tomatoes

Even though my garden isn't aplenty... my neighbor's is! Lucky for us we have neighbors that know how to grow some tasty veggies. This week we were blessed with a delivery of ripe tomatoes and cucumbers, from a very welcoming neighbor (who knows his way around a garden).  We've been slicing tomatoes nightly as an extra veggie in addition to our dinners, but tonight the tomatoes were the centerpiece of dinner.  Stuffed with pulled chicken, basil, garlic, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, olive oil, and topped with fresh parmesan, these were the perfect way to showcase tomatoes in a slightly different way.  Arugula laid the bed, and summer squash with veggie marinara set to the side of each tomato.  A glass of red wine, and dinner was served.  While I wait and decide if I should dig into another one....the dark chocolate is eyeing me from across the room!

Preheat Oven to 375.
Remove the seeds and flesh of the tomatoes.
Save flesh, and discard seeds.
Roughly chop and mix flesh with cooked pulled chicken (this was from a previous dinner- slow cooked chicken breasts).
Mix with spices (minced garlic, basil, red pepper flakes).
Mix in bread crumbs and olive oil- and stuff each tomato.
Cook in oven for 20 minutes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If you're on my deck...

... you have to talk like a pirate.

With perfect low heat and low humidity- a July rarity in Va- we set up the deck for a 2 person party. The music was loud enough, the beer was extra cold, and dinner was a partial redo of a previous failed attempt! I sent my hubs a text earlier in the day asking him to make grilled apples for me!  He is modest about his culinary ability and I am a kitchen hog- but I do love when he cooks for me.  He is set on grilling everything (a personal goal perhaps?!)  Apples (Granny Smiths)- while not the first thing that comes to mind when you fire up a grill- are pretty amazing when topped with goat cheese, agave nectar, and grill roasted pecans.  It could double as a dessert, but we started our party off perfectly with them. 

A few weeks ago we picked up beef marketed as "great for Kabobs"- they looked pretty... but they were so tough and chewy, we ended up with assorted grilled veggies for dinner. This time I went with beef tenderloin- finding a package that had 3 smaller steaks (each steak was roughly 3 ounces.) I cut them in to kabob sized pieces and marinated them in olive oil, garlic and splashes of Worcestershire- for maybe 30 minutes. I strung through peppers, onion, and baby portabellas, with a 2 pieces of beef on each skewer. They sat on a hot grill for just shy of 5 minutes and were grilled to perfection- no knife needed!  

We stayed up late, listened to music, and had way too much fun to be classified as "adults."

Corn with a C...

... not a K-that would be the 90's band who I listened to in high school... and for some reason had a crush on Munky... my poor, poor parents!

This corn is much quieter!

My main focus in the kitchen this summer has been to remove **as much** processed foods as I can- with exceptions! We are not a couple of hard charging purist who refuse ice cream... beer... wine.. or any other of life's lil' luxuries.  Our food philosophy is simple- if listed ingredients are unrecognizable we tend to stay away, and try to recreate a cleaner version using real and whole foods- tend to being the key words... we are human after all!  With that being said, this week was full of some extra tasty meals- created simply with fresh ingredients!

I grabbed a few ears of corn at the grocery store with every intention on grilling it as a side with dinner.  When I started out in the kitchen, I went a different route, mainly because I didn't feel like gnawing on a corn cob!  So with other veggies being chopped up, I let my corn boil for 10 minutes and then placed it on a hot grill- just long enough to get char marks around it!  I cut it from the cob and mixed it in a bowl with the following:

1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 chopped green pepper
1 clove minced garlic
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 avocado
1/2 small red onion- grilled
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper

I mixed, tasted, and adjusted the salt and pepper.  It was so simple, so sweet, and gone so quick!  We paired it up next to a mixed green salad- with salsa instead of dressing ( I am IN LOVE with Costco's medium organic salsa.... pretty much the only reason I go there!) and spiced and sliced grilled chicken breasts. I know  I've done right when my guy closes his eyes and smiles after the first bite!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Squash coming out of your ears?!

With an abundance of summer squash from family and neighbors I took to my favorite search engine to find creative new ways to use our bounty!  The first recipe that caught my eye was from My Little Kitchen.  I tweaked it by using 1/2 cup  of bread crumbs, and 1/2 cup cornmeal- instead of the spelt bread crumbs.   I nixed the tomato sauce, but think it would have been a great addition! 

The second squash creation was a creamy summer squash soup- perfect even on a 90 degree day!  Into the Dutch oven (which feels out of place in summer cooking) went 1/2 of a white onion roughly chopped, 3 cloves of smashed garlic, 3 chopped up carrots, 3 large yellow squash- peeled and cubed- and about a TBSP olive oil.  Let it cook for 5 or so minutes until the squash is getting brown edges and the onion is getting soft.  Add 4 cups of chicken stock - or veggie, but I used what was available- 1/2 cup (or more!!!) white wine. We were out of cooking wine, so in went some Chardonnay!  Let it simmer until the carrots are soft- 10ish minutes...maybe?!.  Add mixture into blender or food processor in small batches- or you will end up with soup me!  I whirl mine for a while... making it extra creamy!  Put it back in the Dutch oven on a low setting and add 1 cup milk- I use 1%.  To season the soup I add a variety of spices to taste.  It started with salt and pepper, tumeric, and chili seasoning.  After tasting, it needed cayenne pepper (a healthy dose!) and more salt. 

Now I'm waiting for the next batch of squash to come in.... if only my green thumb was as successful as my kitchen creations!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th Festivities

Happy Fourth of July! True to form we spent the weekend at the grill- be it holiday or snow day we can usually be found grilling out!  Hubs sipped a Bells Lager, in the ever so patriotic American Amber Ale glass while grilling out some sliders and dogs.

I kicked off the evening with oven "Fried" green 'maters- they were dusted in cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. I lightly spritzed them with olive oil before cooking in a 400 degree oven.  They were totally edible!

With them we had peppers stuffed with goat and cream cheese, garlic, chili flakes (just a pinch) and hot sauce. These little beasts had a fiery kick for being as cute as they looked!  They went into the same oven as the tomatoes, for about 20 minutes. 

The pups enjoyed some quality deck time....

.... and hammed it up for the mama!!

After all was grilled we assembled the sliders- cut the hot dogs in half and topped them with everything from avocado, to pineapple...  Hubby made multiple types of sliders! The options were awesome..

a. the Texas slider with pepper jack cheese, and BBQ sauce
b.  bacon, blue with mushrooms and onions

There was no way to favor one over the other... so I had both!

Thank goodness they were bite size, we had to keep some room open for the grilled pineapple slices!

Our two person party ended up on the front porch, for the most amazing thunderstorm! The lightning was intense, and we were pretty insane for staying out in it!  How could we not chill out and enjoy the light show provided for us... I mean it is the 4th after all!

The gratuitous patriotic Flag shot between moments of a pitch black and an electric silver sky ..

Morning brought a groggy couple down for coffee and coffee initiated the conversation on today's list of  things to do...
1st up a RUN!  We took off for a relatively nearby park.  We haven't been to Poor Farm since the demolition of the beloved "flats" began...

So long sweet single track...

We managed to squeeze in a humid hour long, sweat inducing run! Most of the time we were laughing like children stomping through the puddles, jumping over downed branches- evidence of last nights intensity- and chasing each other through the twists and bends in the trail!

I'm most grateful for a long weekend with my dude, to close out a superb vacation!  Blessed to have amazing family and friends... and honored there are individuals who have given their lives to ensure my safety!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Knee Deep

After 7  sweet days on the beaches of Hatteras Island with my hubby's family and friends we returned home today with clear minds, full hearts, and a yearning to get back in the sand again!   The week was full of adventures with the pitties, grilling out, and craft beers!  Both pups enjoyed what we believe to be their first romp in the sand- in true pit bull fashion they attacked the crabs with a vengeance, kicked sand until their hearts content, and made their presence known in attempts to communicate with the waves. Our four legged fur babies had a blast! 

Predawn beach patrol- waiting for the sun!

setting up for the day

Whiskey contemplating what we are doing up so early...

pit bulls in the sand

waiting to chase people around the pool....
 So after a week of no guilt beach eating, flat morning runs, and mass consumption of hoppy brews we came home craving a light- grilled no doubt- dinner!  I'm passing on beers for water- blasphemy I know. My insatiable craving for seafood led us to munch on grilled oysters (WSL style) while working on rockfish- lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and dusted with Austin's Awesome Seafood Seasoning.... A.A.S.S. blend from Austin's in Rodanthe.  Asparagus and roasted rutabaga "fries" held the veggie ground!  Rutabaga fries are a tasty alternative their potato counterparts- we roasted them for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven (before setting the stove to a low broil for 3 minutes).


Bay Rockfish and asparagus

We are off to enjoy grilled peaches with banana soft serve- aka vegan fro yo! So long double scoops of real ice cream!