Sweet Corn, Leek and Basil Crab Cakes {plus an avocado and tomato salad}

Big Guy is counting down to football season and I just cannot believe that July is almost over and August is right around the corner.  I’m not ready for summer to be over.  {insert pouting}  I honestly wish it could be summer 11 months of the year – it can be winter in December – and that is all.

We’ve had some incredible evening weather the past few days.  We spent both Friday evening and Saturday evening outside – the humidity was low and even the bugs were tolerable.

Besides the warm weather, I love summertime food.  And this dinner from Friday is full of homegrown goodness.

Here’s what came from our garden:  corn, leeks, onion, basil, chives, parsley, tomatoes and mint.

The crab cakes are are stuffed with crab but also with fresh flavors like crisp corn, herbaceous basil and hints of onions.  Incredibly tender but very filling – but not with fillers.  Panko bread crumbs hold them together with a little help from mayonnaise and eggs.  They were very delicate to work with but the end result was outstanding.

The crab cakes were served with a champagne-citrus beurre blanc that is rich and creamy.  Perfect for dipping each and every bite of crab cake.

And how gorgeous is the avocado and tomato salad?  Not only is it gorgeous but it’s effortless.  Tomatoes, onions and sliced avocado are tossed herbs and a drizzle of EVOO and red wine vinegar plus a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.  The perfect summer salad.

Now if only I were sitting on the back deck sippin’ bubbles today…Then life would be perfect.  (wink wink)

{virtual} coffee chat.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would be completely honest with you in saying that I am not excited about Monday.  So we’d talk about the weekend.  Because weekends are always more fun.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you at the slide at the pool is really fast.  Like really, really fast.  We were the only ones at the pool on Saturday and I randomly decided I should try out the slide.  It’s fun to act like a kid.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about the garden and how I have tomatoes coming out of my ears.  So many cherry tomatoes.  If you have any recipes that utilize the baby tomatoes, send ’em my way!

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about our Saturday night shenanigans.  Supper Club was a luau theme and Big Guy couldn’t wait to put on his Hawaiian shirt.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you how blessed we are to have such a great group of friends.  It was one of the biggest supper club groups yet and it’s always nice to catch up with some of the people you don’t see all the time.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d talk about how Sunday was baby-filled.  I helped host a shower for one of my dear friends Katie who is having a baby girl in October.  The theme was “Sugar and Spice” and it was fun to shower Katie with lots of love and the most adorable baby girl clothes.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that as soon as the shower was over, Big Guy and I hit the road for Raleigh to go meet the newest little Pirate – our friends James and Kimberly had a baby girl and we finally got to meet her.  She’s the sweetest.  It was nice to catch up with James and Kimberly and hopefully we’ll plan a dinner out soon.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that we ended the weekend on a high note – sushi at Mura.  My favorite.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d already be talking about the upcoming weekend.  I’m heading to Charlotte to see my family and some quality time with my two favorite kids.  I cannot believe how fast they’re growing and that they’ll be 4 and 1 in October.  Where does the time go?!?!

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about our day dreams.  Mine right now is all about the beach.  A mini-vacation is in the near future and I am so, so, so ready.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d have an extra cup of coffee…because it’s that kind of morning.

Fresh Corn Sauté with Bacon and Chives

The past two weeks have been all about zucchini.  But not today.

Corn is in the house.  (Literally.)  And it’s the shining star in this easy summer side dish.

The key to simple recipes is to use high-quality ingredients (I know, I know – I’ve told you this before).

You only need 3 ingredients!  (Five if you want to count salt and pepper.)

Sweet corn.

Bacon.

Chives.

corn saute

I was so excited that we were able to use ingredients that we had put a lot of love into.  We Big Guy grew the corn from a kernel.  We turned a raw product (pork belly) into bacon.  And the chives were from my herb garden.

Unfortunately I haven’t sourced my own salt and pepper.

Yet.

Start by cooking your bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Once it reaches your desired texture (some like crispy bacon, some like chewy bacon), add in the corn kernels fresh off the cob and sauté about 4 minutes.  You want to corn to remain crisp while getting a little color.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper (I did not use salt because I knew my bacon was on the salty side) and finish off with a sprinkle of chives.

This side dish would be perfect with any summer meal.

But it was extra perfect next to pickle-brined (oven) fried chicken with spicy sesame honey. <— seriously delicious!!!!!

chicken

{virtual} coffee chat

{image}

If we were having coffee this morning…I might complain about my ear hurting.  Not the inside – I completely clamped my earlobe with my flat iron while doing my hair this morning.  Happy Monday.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you all about last week.  Well, actually I would tell you that Monday through Thursday were rather stressful but on Friday we bit the bullet and purchased a brand new car.  Isn’t she pretty?  In the end, it was the smartest option (given the two that we had) and now we can all rest assured that I’m safe.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about the restaurant we went to on Friday night for date night.  I had heard amazing things about ONE in Chapel Hill and after our experience it’s made it’s way to my list of top restaurants.  The food was amazing and I wish I could show you pictures – but I promised Big Guy I wouldn’t take any pictures of my food.  We ended up going for the 8-course tasting menu and they gave us each 8 different dishes.  Incredible.  My only complaint is regarding the sommelier.  He just wasn’t into the wine and left a lot to be desired.  But the service and the food more than made up for what he lacked.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that Big Guy and I had a fun Saturday at home and pulled out the corn hole boards.  Things got a little competitive but in the end I lost.  Thankfully I’m a great loser.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d ask you about what you’re reading.  I’m well on my way through another one of the books on my Summer Reading List.  This one was recommended by a friend (hi! kristen) after she saw it on theSkimm.  So far I’m really enjoying the book.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d encourage you to join theSkimm’s mailing list.  What’s theSkimm, you ask:

theSkimm is the daily e-mail newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day. We do the reading for you – across subject lines and party lines – and break it down with fresh editorial content.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d be super excited.  My sister is coming to visit this weekend and I have been looking forward to this weekend for months.  Last year she visited at about the same time to attend a wine dinner with me – well, she was pregnant when she visited and the wine dinner just wasn’t the same since she couldn’t enjoy all the wine.  This year she’s not pregnant (well, she better not be – haha) and we’re going to a Napa vs. Sonoma Wine Dinner.  Now if only Friday would get here a little faster…

{image}

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that we picked the corn yesterday and at the end of the day we ended up with about three dozen ears.  Last night, after a day at the pool, we spent some time boiling the corn for a few minutes then shocking them in ice water being cutting the corn off the cob and freezing.  I love having fresh corn in the freezer, but we seem to go through it way too fast.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d part ways on this note:

{image}

Spicy Sesame Basil Noodles

Hiiiii!!!!  It’s Friday.  And I love Friday.  And while I’d like to think that I’m super productive at work on Friday, I’m often day dreaming of the weekend to come.  Tell me I’m not the only one.

Tonight we’re going ton a date – outside of the house! – and I couldn’t be more excited.  And Saturday is National Mojito Day, so clearly you can guess what I’m doing.

If you said drinking mojitos and cooking up a Cuban spread of food, you’d be correct.  And on Sunday I think a little lounging by the pool would be glorious.

What are you doing?  If you don’t have plans, have a date night without leaving your house!  Make some noodles, curl up on the couch and watch a movie.

That’s what we did last Friday night and it was perfect.

I used to have a vision of myself in my 20s and 30s and it involved living in a big city, ordering takeout and pouring a glass of wine.

I almost felt like I was living that day dream – minus the big city and I totally had to make this myself.  Buuuut I think it’s better than takeout.

These noodles are ALL about the sauce.  Tahini and tamari (or soy sauce) are whisked together with hot chili oil (which, by the way, I could not find at Whole Foods – I know.  I couldn’t believe it either.  I ended up finding a hot pepper oil and it wasn’t spicy at all – so I added Sriracha on top of my noodles), tangy balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

In addition to the noodles (I used a brown rice noodle), carrots, green onions and basil and finished off with some crunchy peanuts.

As for the movie, we watched Yours, Mine and Ours.  Yes, the one with Lucille Ball.  Love that movie.

And since it was a date night, a bottle of German Reisling to balance the heat.

Cheers!

 

Grilled Watermelon and Minty Green Beans with Feta

Big Guy bought a HUGE watermelon for the 4th of July weekend and despite how delicious it is to eat hovered over the sink with juice dripping down our arms, I thought I would grill a few slices.

We’ve grilled watermelon before and if you’re hesitant, I understand.  Watermelon is supposed to be cool and crisp and refreshing.  While it does warm up when grilled, the inside stays cool and crisp and it’s incredibly refreshing.  Especially when paired with minty green beans.

Unfortunately my grocery store doesn’t carry halloumi cheese (or ricotta salata).  I blame that on our small town status.

But I improvised.  I had some feta in the fridge and decided to roll with it.  I wasn’t about to cry over spilled milk the wrong cheese.

This dinner takes no time at all.  Promise – 2o minutes or less.

I started by throwing the green beans in the microwave to steam – yep, I used the microwave.  p.s. It’s been forever since we had green beans.

While the beans were steaming, I whisked up the dressing – a simple mix of EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  A little bit of the dressing get removed to be tossed with the arugula.

As soon as the beans are cooked, toss them with the dressing.  Add in the mint and you’ll immediately smell the fragrant herb.

Now it’s time to grill your melon.  You really only need a couple of minutes a side – as soon as there are grill marks – flip!  I will agree that no one wants mushy watermelon.

You’re ready to eat.

A handful of greens.  A serving of minty green beans.  A slice of grilled watermelon.  A hefty sprinkle of feta.  And crunchy pistachios.

And yes, I’ve shown you two salads this week.

But I also made you homemade bacon.

You’re welcome.

 

 

Homemade BLT

This is not your #basic BLT.  This BLT is a labor of love.  And a week in the making.

My heart smiles when I see that platter of Build Your Own BLTs.

It all started with a pork belly two weekends ago in which we used half for burgers and we decided to make the other half into bacon.  After a week curing in the fridge it was ready for the smoker.  After about 90 minutes, it was ready to sizzle in a pan until crisp.

bacon

So we have the “B” covered…

We also made homemade bread for the BLTs.  Thanks to a little help from a friend (having a chef friend is always a good thing) I was armed with a recipe and confident that we would have sandwich bread for our BLTs.

recipe

And it turned out beautifully!  I have to say, I’m about as proud of the bread as I am the bacon.

bread

There are few things in life that smell as good as fresh baked bread.

And while Big Guy loves Duke’s Mayo, we opted to make our own (because WHY NOT?!?!).

Mayo is so easy to make.  Big Guy and I first made mayo from scratch about three years ago and then again last 4th of July weekend at a cooking class.  The base is egg yolks, a little honey, the juice from half a lemon and then stream in 1 cup of oil.  I folded in some fresh parsley at the end for a punch of freshness.

Unfortunately our tomatoes aren’t quite ready to make an appearance on a sandwich (we planted a little late this year) but our friends gifted us two gorgeous heirloom tomatoes for our BLTs.  And the lettuce is by no means local – straight from the grocery store.  The heat in NC doesn’t make for fresh, crisp lettuce in the summer.

BLT

Two hearty slices of homemade bread slathered with homemade herb mayo and then topped with lettuce, tomato slices and bacon.

Served with a slice of watermelon on the side.

I’ve never been more proud of a sandwich in my life.

And I have to say, our hard work paid off.

Best.BLT.ever.