Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tomato Salad

I can’t take full credit for this dinner.  In actuality, I can only take credit for choosing the recipe and making sure that we had all the ingredients at home.  I had full intentions of helping Big Guy prepare this dinner but I found myself at a meeting that lasted a little longer than I expected.

Thankfully Big Guy knows his way around the kitchen.

The recipe is simple.  Besides the usual suspects:  salt, pepper and olive oil, you’ll only need a handful of ingredients.

Chicken (we used chicken thighs)

Lemons

Baby or grape tomatoes (or whatever is growing in your garden)

Cheese (the recipe called for feta but we had goat so that’s what we used)

Basil (totally optional but if you have it I recommend it)

The chicken marinates in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice (Big Guy wanted me to let you know that he used more lemon juice than the recipe called for) while you prepare the tomato salad.

The tomatoes are tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Before grilling the chicken, sprinkle on some salt and pepper.

The chicken is plated and then topped with the tomato salad, crumbled goat cheese and basil confetti.

The lemon-flavor was subtle but so refreshing.  I actually think I preferred the tangy, creamy goat cheese over salty feta.  But either would be delicious.

Homegrown tomatoes really make this dinner special.  Bursting with flavor and really only needing salt and pepper to heighten the flavor.

Summertime.  It’s my favorite.

And so is Big Guy.

Chipotle Chicken with Coriander Rice

A little heat and a lot of flavor is what this dinner is full of.

chipotle chicken

Chicken breasts can sometimes get a bad rap for being dry and boring.  But not these.  They’re first seared on the stovetop and then finish cooking in the oven.  And there’s no way you can call the sauce on top of the chicken boring.

Chipotle chiles, cherry preserves and garlic make the chicken bursting with flavor with each and every bite.  And some bites had a little more kick than others.

(By the way, you’ll only use about 1/2 of a chipotle chile, so put each additional chile in a separate plastic bag and freeze for the next time you need one.)

The rice recipe instructions were a little confusing to me, but here’s what I did and it turned out amazing (I think the rice was Big Guy’s favorite part of dinner).

First cook the rice according to package direction (don’t add any fat or salt).

While the rice was cooking, I sauteed the onion and the coriander and then set aside in a bowl.

Once the rice was finished absorbing all the water, I added the onion mixture to the pot of rice (without stirring) and put the lid back on.

When the chicken and sauce were done cooking and we were ready to eat, I added the parsley and lemon juice to the rice and fluffed.

Rice perfection.

Not only was the sauce full of flavor but the lemon juice and parsley tamed the heat while the coriander really added a depth of flavor that I loved.

Just so you know, coriander is the seed of cilantro.  Though in some countries, coriander can be the term used for cilantro leaves.

One of the best parts about having a sauce served with chicken is it helps keep leftovers from drying out.

And now that I have some leftover cherry preserves, this recipe is on my radar:  Cherry-Port Glazed Pork Loin Roast.

I think it would be a great Sunday supper!

Honey-Glazed Pork Chops with Tomato Salad and Silver Dollar Corn Cakes

This dinner made me crave big family dinners.

But don’t let your imagination run wild.

We’re not planning to have any additions to our little family anytime in the near future.

And maybe it’s the fact that my sister was visiting over the weekend, but it made me want to live near family so I could have family over for dinner on a Sunday evening.

The only thing that could have made this more “family dinner” material would have been a big pitcher of sweet iced tea in the middle of the table.

Oh, and people talking over one another.

sunday dinner

The pork chops (bone-in wasn’t available so we went with thick-cut) were seasoned with salt and pepper and then cooked on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil.  Once cooked, the pan was deglazed with chicken broth and then used to make a sauce along with honey, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

pork

While the pork chops were cooking, the tomatoes were roasting in the oven with sliced red onion, thyme, and garlic.  The tomatoes were later tossed with farmers market spinach for a delicious side salad.  When the hot tomatoes are placed on the bed of spinach the leaves begin to wilt and it’s divine.

tomatoes and spinach

And for the most Southern part of the plate, Silver Dollar Corn Cakes.  These were Big Guy’s favorite.  Tender and a little sweet, these little cornbread cakes are studded with local corn which gives them great texture.  I even think a little jalapeno would have been delicious added to the batter.  The only change I made was using a gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of regular all-purpose.

corn cakes

The best bite was one where the corn cake had soaked up a little of the honey-glaze along with a piece of tender pork.  Gotta love sweet and savory.

And even though this made me crave a big family dinner, I am so grateful for Big Guy and our little family of two dinners.

 

 

Walnut Crusted Grilled Filet {aka the best steak from our grill}

“The best steak from our grill” is a bold statement.

Bold but true.  These steaks are that good.

Post-“appy” hour, we enjoyed the sunshine and just being.  Big Guy welcomes the calm of a Saturday evening and I know that Maggie did, too.

Once the sun started to go down, Big Guy fired up the grill for our steaks.  While I had intended to purchase a beef tenderloin, I ended up having the butcher cut four individual filets.  It was a splurge but well-worth the price.

We generously sprinkled salt and pepper on both sides of the steaks and then rubbed on a layer of Dijon mustard (which would act as a glue).

In a mini food processor, I chopped up walnuts.  The walnuts along with fresh thyme were liberally pressed onto each side of the steak on top of the mustard.

Since we had enjoyed an appetizer, I kept the side simple.  Maggie requested grilled romaine and I happily obliged.  Grilled romaine is one of my favorites.  Simply drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until it’s a little limp on the outside but still crunchy on the inside.  For the dressing, a green goddess dressing that is equally delicious as a dip for veggies.  I jazzed up the salad with grilled homegrown tomatoes and fried onions.  Yes, fried onions.  What can I say, I was inspired by the wine dinner.  To fry the onions, simply pour oil (I used canola) into a small pan and heat over medium-high heat.  In batches, scatter thinly sliced onions into the oil and let them cook until crispy.  Keep your eye on them!  Remove from the oil and sprinkle with salt.  They added the perfect crunch factor to the salad.

We used a mixture of chives, basil, and parsley that was bursting with freshness which was a welcome addition to the plate.

I’m not sure what it was but this steak was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Cooked medium-rare, steak has never tasted so delicious.  The mustard added a acidity to the richness of the steak while the walnuts took it over the top.  Amazing dinner.  Amazing wine.  Amazing company.

Seriously, the best steak to ever come off our grill.

Spontaneous Savannah

Y’all, I fell in love this past weekend.

But let’s rewind to last Tuesday.  July 1st.  I arrived home from work and Big Guy proclaims, “I think we need a plan B for the weekend.”

I knew that a hurricane was heading straight to our 4th of July destination but I really didn’t want to believe that it would ruin my plans.  So I avoided the conversation.

Come Wednesday morning I was bummed.  Really bummed.  I had seen the weather and heard everyone and anyone talking about Arthur that was sure to hit the Outer Banks.  I had taken vacation days around the 4th so that I could have a mini-vacation and now there was nothing to do but wait out the storm.

Or so I thought.

Around 9am on Wednesday morning, I got an email from Big Guy asking “Do you want to be spontaneous?”

My reply:  “I want to say ‘why’ but I’ll just say ‘yes.’

And that was that.  I wouldn’t find out until the next morning where we were going.  On Wednesday night, we packed – God bless my husband, he’s a patient, patient man – and I still had no clue what I was packing for.

I was like a kid on Christmas the next morning.  My early morning alarm didn’t even phase me, I was ready to get my workout done and over with so I could find out where I was going for the weekend.

envelope

When I arrived home from the gym I was greeted by Big Guy and an envelope.  (I would receive an envelope each morning with the plan for the day.)

Savannah was our final destination.  And at 8am, we hit the road.

Our first stop, Hilton Head, to visit a dear friends new restaurant, Live Oak. (I’ll do a full post on this meal tomorrow!)

With a full belly and a happy heart, we hit the road for the final leg to Savannah.

Of all the cities my brain wandered to in the 20 hours that I didn’t know where I was going, Savannah was not on the list.  I was shocked.  And thrilled.

Once we arrived to the Bohemian Hotel on the Riverfront, we headed up to the  rooftop bar for a cocktail.

 

Post-cocktails on the roof, we headed to our room to clean up for dinner at The Olde Pink House.  

the old pink

We were a little early for our reservation, so we headed down to the bar for a drink.  The bar was super cozy and I wish we could have spent our entirety down there.

Unfortunately, where we were sat wasn’t the best place in the restaurant.  We were in the middle of a huge room and it was really loud – not what I was expecting.  It simply didn’t live up to the hype.  Thankfully, the service was amazing but it’s not somewhere I would return.

Fast-forward to the next morning, Big Guy’s favorite holiday, the 4th of July.  I opened up another envelope and was giddy with excitement to learn that were taking a cooking class.  Before getting ready for the day, we walked to a local coffee shop, The Coffee Fox, for what would be the first of four trips.

I was in Heaven.  The views were breathtaking and I fell in love with the walkability of the town.  Oh, and The Coffee Fox, hands-down the best cold brew coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

Dressed and ready to go for the day, we headed out to our cooking class:  Summer Grilling at the 700 Cooking School at the sister hotel of the Bohemian, Mansion on Forsyth Park.  

Don’t worry, I’m saving a full post for that experience of a lifetime.

But can I just say that Big Guy is the best husband ever.  The fact that he found a way for me to cook on the 4th of July is beyond me and I was super impressed.

Post-cooking and eating, we set out to explore Savannah on foot.

We walked for hours and miles and I probably told Big Guy 18 times that I wanted to move to Savannah or somewhere like it.  Having the ability to walk places is high on my “want” list.

Big Guy made reservations at Local 11 ten for Friday night and I was so pumped once I saw the menu.  The restaurant has a rooftop bar, The Perch, so we arrived early to enjoy the outside air and the city.

While enjoying a champagne cocktail, we nibbled on par trois: pimento cheese, house pickles, rillette, crackers.

apps at local

The appetizer was absolutely delightful and I still couldn’t believe that I was in Savannah.

Post-cocktail hour, it was time to eat!  Unfortunately, the service in the restaurant was kind of spotty.  We asked a few questions and it took about 15 minutes for her to come back to our table.  But she didn’t come back with answers or drinks.

The food was delicious and I would return in a heartbeat, but I would ask for another server if she came towards my table.  Just sayin’.

I had one last envelope to open on Saturday morning and I was surprised to find that I would be getting a massage at the Mansion.  

We walked to get coffee (duh) and then continued on walking the streets of Savannah and exploring until it was time for my 2 hours of bliss.

champs

To note – the Mansion is also full of amazing art pieces.  The above piece of art belongs in my home.

The massage was absolutely relaxing and perfect.  Once again, best husband award.

Post-massage I was quite the noodle and it took me awhile to snap out of my relaxed mode.  But soon enough I was hungry and ventured out for more walking and eating.  We stumbled upon The Public Kitchen and Bar and we made the most out of a 30 minute wait by having cocktails.  Hey, it was Saturday.  And vacation.

I must add that the bartender was super impressive.  I ordered a glass of sparkling rose and there was a glass or so left in the bottle.  He tried a sip and deemed it not good enough (not enough bubbles) and opened a fresh bottle for me.  That is how you get a good tip, folks.

the public

Lunch totally hit the spot.  Big Guy ordered the messiest burger and it was burger perfection.  Cooked medium-rare, as requested, and required multiple napkins – sign of a good burger.  I went with the kale and arugula salad with salmon, which was also cooked to a perfect medium, as requested.

My only complaint, the rooftop bar wasn’t open and I was bummed.  I would go back no questions asked for lunch or dinner!

After lunch, we went out in search of the Owens-Thomas House for a tour.  While I’m not a huge history bluff, I love tours of homes and this one was no exception.  It’s believed to be the first house to have indoor plumbing and I loved imaging how people lived “back in the day.”

After a little more walking, it was time to get ready for our last night out in Savannah.  As sad as I was to see our trip coming to an end, I was so excited to eat at Elizabeth on 37th.  We went with the Chef’s Tasting and it was the most incredible food of the entire trip.  Holy deliciousness.  And the wine pairings were perfect.  We ate and drank to our hearts content.

Some favorite courses:  Broiled clams; sea scallops on a bed of the most amazing corn I’ve ever tasted; a butterbean soup that was beyond words and totally made me rethink the butterbean.  I was also blown away by the goat cheese cheesecake.  oh.em.gee.

We ended on the highest of high notes.

Last week at this time I would have never guessed or imagined that I would spend the 4th of July weekend in Savannah.  Sometimes life is funny.  And while I am a “planner” and probably will always have those tendencies,  I savored every morsel of this spontaneous weekend.  And you know, I am welcoming, with open arms, a little more spontaneity in my life.

I enjoyed every moment.  Every beautiful home.  Every delicious bite.  Every perfect sip of bubbles.  Every step in a lovely town.  Every laugh.  Every quiet moment.

Savannah, I fell for you.

 

 

Chicken Drumettes {two ways} and a Corn and Peach Salsa

I have so much to share with y’all from my long 4th of July weekend.  But you’ll have to wait another day.

I know, so annoying.

But to keep you coming back for more, here’s THREE recipes.  Yep, three.

First up, chicken drumettes.  Grilled to perfection and then served with two different sauces.

A Singapore Sauce and a Sesame Glaze. 

drumd

The sesame glaze was salty and sweet with a little heat from red pepper flakes.

sesamr

While the Singapore sauce was spicy with the perfect hint of ginger in every bite.

sing

If I had to choose, I would say that the Sesame Glazed drumettes were my favorite of the two.

plate

On the side, a Corn and Peach Salsa.  Last Tuesday, I started prepping for what should have been a trip to Hatteras for the holiday weekend.  On the list, corn and peaches.  I enjoy purchasing local, when possible.  And I purchased quite a bit.  I found myself with 12 large peaches and 24 ears of corn so I wanted to make use of some of the fresh produce.

Not your typical salsa since there’s no tomato in sight but it’s sweet and absolutely delicious.  If you’ve never had raw corn, you’re missing out.  So fresh and crunchy.  Also in the mix, cilantro and homegrown jalapenos.  Also, for the acid, white wine vinegar – a welcome addition to the salsa.  Perfect for dipping.

I promise I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.

Fried Green Tomato BLT

There aren’t many things in this world that are more Southern than fried green tomatoes.

Especially when they’re homegrown.

I mean, I can’t even handle how excited I was as I sliced the not-so-tender flesh of the green tomato into perfect slices ready for “frying.”

And the smell of the bacon only fueled my excitement.

And as simple as a BLT is, adding the fried green tomato still keeps it simple but adds the perfect Southern twist.

The bacon sizzles and cooks first in a large skillet.  Once crisp (I’ll let you be the judge as to the perfect crispness), remove and set to the side on a paper towel lined plate.

Reserve about a teaspoon of the oil.

While the bacon pops away, prepare your dredge:  cornmeal, Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper.

Once you’ve set the bacon to the side and discarded of extra bacon drippings, coat the tomatoes in the cornmeal mixture and place in the skillet.

Allow the tomatoes to cook about 2-3 minutes on each or until browned and softened.  Once mine were done cooking, I sprinkled with sea salt.  Because I’m such a rebel.

Then all you gotta do is assemble.

And I really hope you know how to assemble a BLT.

A smidge of mayo (only Duke’s around this household), a layer of crisp lettuce, two perfectly cooked bacon slices, and a fried green tomato are sandwiched between two toasted slices of bread.

And it’s perfection.

Absolute Southern perfection.

 

Grilled Watermelon and Zucchini Chips

Sunday night we used as much as we could from the garden while preparing dinner.

Zucchini
Basil
Tomato

mater

It was our first tomato from the garden and it was delicious.

I picked up the watermelon at a small Farmers Market on Thursday evening and my-oh-my, it was a sweet one.  Juicy and messy.  Just the way watermelon should be.

And whole some may disagree about grilling watermelon, you have to trust me.

It worked.

water and tom

The watermelon was brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before being drizzled with honey and going straight onto the grill.

Cooked for about 2-3 minutes on each side and then plated with fresh tomato slices, feta crumbles, basil and a balsamic glaze.

salad

And while I’ve seen lots of recipes for the combo of watermelon and tomato, I wasn’t a believer until last night.

So refreshing!

And alongside the watermelon salad, baked zucchini chips.

zucc

The breading was a combination of panko, crushed cornflakes (I didn’t have enough panko), basil, Parmesan cheese and salt.

The zucchini slices were tossed with olive oil and then dredged through the breading before baking.

chips

I combined ketchup and Sriacha for a delicious dipping sauce.

A fun and fresh Sunday night dinner!

Have you ever grilled watermelon?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve thrown on the grill?

annnnnnnnnnd, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAT!!!!!

july 2008

july 2008

Weekend Review {date night and celebrating Kat}

It’s a three-day work week for this girl and I am ready to take on the day.  This past weekend was full of fun and friends and I am so glad I got to visit my BFF in Greensboro.  Here’s a look at the weekend that was:

mojito

After a long week for both me and Big Guy, we were more than ready for cocktail hour on Friday night.  Using fresh-from-the-garden cucumber and mint, I muddled together a Cucumber and Ginger Mojito.  So refreshing.  It would be the perfect sipper on a hot day at the pool.

roasted caul

“Appy” hour was quite delicious.  I’ve been eyeing the recipe for Whole Roasted Cauliflower for some time now and it turned out way better than I ever expected.  I’m not a fan of cauliflower in the raw but roasted – it’s amazing.  The dip was a combination of cream cheese, goat cheese and feta and was the perfect compliment to the cauliflower.  I highly recommend this appetizer!

flank

 

And for our main course, Garlic Brown Sugar Flank Steak with Chimichurri and a side of roasted homegrown zucchini.  The chimichurri so was herbaceous and fresh.

My post-workout treat on Saturday morning was an iced coffee.  I’ve been craving one all week and I finally gave in.

On Saturday mid-morning, we hit the road to go see my BFF and partner-in-crime, Kat to celebrate her birthday.

We had organized a dinner with some of her closest friends for that night at MJ’s.

So happy to spend the evening with these two.

And this guy can be my date any time.

fried green

Fried Green Tomatoes with MJ’S pimento cheese, peach coulis and truffle oil to start.

amberjack

Amberjack served with jalapeno polenta cakes, asparagus and an arugula crab salad.

Such a fun night!

Sunday morning, we headed to Asheboro to have lunch with Granny and Pawpaw.  It was so nice to visit with them and enjoy a delicious lunch full of veggies and chicken salad.

On the way home, we stopped by the Millstone Creek Orchards to see what fresh produce we could find.  We walked away with some freshly picked blackberries and Big Guy couldn’t resist a peach slushie.  Such a kid!

Here’s to a short week and an exciting weekend with friends ahead!

 

Zucchini, Walnut and Feta Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

My life is pretty much complete now.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I adore Cooking Light.  They use REAL ingredients and have REAL recipes for REAL food.  Just because it’s “light” doesn’t mean it’s tasteless.  I’ve been a subscriber for the magazine for about 6 years now and it’s one of the subscriptions that I just can’t part with.

Well, they finally noticed me.

Cooking Light “liked” my photo on instagram a couple of nights ago.

Zucchini, Walnut and Feta Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce are packed with zucchini straight from our garden.  If it wasn’t for awesome recipes like this, I would be sick and tired of eating zucchini already.  It’s growing like crazy!

To bind the cakes, quinoa is ground in a food processor along with walnuts and mixed in with the zucchini, eggs, feta, green onions and dill.  I loved the texture that the quinoa gave to the zucchini cakes.

Make sure to salt your zucchini after it’s grated and squeeze out all the water.  You don’t want to end up with a too-watery mixture and zucchini is full of water.

The zucchini cakes are pan “fried” in a  little olive oil until browned and cooked through.

Served over a bed of spicy arugula with a big dollop of a cucumber-yogurt sauce that is full of flavor thanks to garlic.

Full of flavor and even Cooking Light thought it looked yummy.