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)

Hot Cheesy Corn Dip

Y’all – we are plowing through our corn stash way too fast.  But I can’t help myself!

This appetizer + that cocktail = the perfect “appy” hour

And we all know that’s my favorite hour ever.

This appetizer is everything you want – a little spicy, addicting and insanely cheesy.

I literally had to walk away so that I wouldn’t eat too many bites.

corn dip

And it doesn’t photograph well – like most dips.

But I can’t not share this dip because you HAVE to make it.

This weekend.

In the mix: corn, onions and bell pepper that are sautéed in a little butter (and I have to brag – the corn, onions and bell pepper were all from our garden), jalapeno and garlic, a little mayo for creaminess, and CHEESE.  All the cheese – but seriously, a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack.  Everything is baked until bubbly and warm.

It’s perfection.  Unless you eat it straight out of the oven – and then it just burns your mouth.

But that’s your fault.  Not mine.

Corn + Cheese = everything

 

 

Strawberry Basil Ginger Cocktail

I hope you don’t mind easing into the work week with a cocktail.

This past weekend was extra sweet and I am so excited that I’ll get to see my sister two more times over the next three weeks.

On Friday night we got dressed up and headed out to a wine dinner.

We sipped and savored our way through a 5-course menu.  The wines featured were from Sonoma and Napa and each course had dueling food and wine.  So much food.

In the end, Sonoma won!

On Saturday we slept in and then headed straight to the pool for some sun and relaxation.  It was perfection.

We made all our food and cocktail decisions before heading to the pool and when a storm started brewing, we knew it was time to head home for cocktail hour.

We ultimately decided on the Strawberry Basil Ginger cocktail and it was a wise decision indeed.

Fresh strawberries are blended with basil and then mixed with vodka and ginger ale for the most refreshing and light fruity drink.

We used Blenheim Ginger Ale and I loved the kick from the ginger.

Maggie and I don’t get weekends together like this very often and I tried to savor every moments.  We ate, we drank, we laughed and we simply enjoyed each others company.

There’s something truly special about a sister.  We can go weeks (sometimes months) without seeing one another and yet we pick right back up where we left off.

 

Friday Favorites {cocktail edition}

The day has finally arrived!!!  My sister is coming to visit and we’re having ourselves a sister weekend.  We’re going to drink wine on Friday night at a wine dinner and then all she wants to do is sleep in and go to the pool (and not have to watch kids!) on Saturday.  I can totally make that happen.  But Saturday night is kind of up in the air.  I mean, I know we’re going to eat something delicious (duh!) but I’m going to wait and see what we eat Friday night before making any decisions.  (I take food very seriously.)  And there’s one more decision to be made:  what will our cocktail be on Saturday?

So I’m going to try and make the decision easier for Maggie.  Instead of doing a round-up of everything and anything, today’s Friday Favorites is all about cocktails.

**And if cocktails aren’t your thing – which is totally cool and respected – some of these would make amazing MOCK-tails**

{image from Lilly Pulitzer}

Favorite Herb-Infused:  Strawberry Basil Ginger Cocktail.  So refreshing.  And we have lots of basil in the garden.

 

Favorite Toast:  French 75 Punch.  This would be the perfect way to introduce Maggie to my favorite champagne cocktail.

 

Favorite Pitted:  Roasted Cherry Sangria.  Maggie loved Dr. Pepper growing up so I have a feeling she’d love this cherry-filled drink.

 

Favorite In-Season:  Peach Moscow Mule.  I know Maggie isn’t a fan of rum so this vodka-based cocktail might be a winner.

 

Favorite Bubbles:  Prosecco.  Champagne.  Cava.    You can’t go wrong with sparkling wine.  But I love seeing the side-by-side comparison.

 

Favorite Pretty:  Strawberry Clover Club.  Almost too pretty to drink.

 

Favorite Escape:  French Tropics Summer Punch.  One day, Maggie and I are going to turn a sister weekend into a sister “getaway.”  But until then…

 

Favorite Bright:  Pineapple, Mint, Ginger and Lime Crush.  Sounds so refreshing.

 

Favorite Tequila:  Fizzy Peach Jalapeno Margaritas.  Because no cocktail round-up is complete without tequila.

 

Cheers!

(I promise to report back on the final decision.)

Watermelon Mojitos, Plantain Chips, and Cubans

Saturday was National Mojito Day.  And I obviously had to celebrate.

Little known fact:  A mojito was the first cocktail I ever made from scratch – AKA not just pouring juice in a cup with alcohol.

We kind of took National Mojito Day to a whole new level.  Not only did we have mojitos but we turned the entire afternoon/evening into a Cuban-inspired day.

The Watermelon Mojitos earned themselves a spot in the top five mojitos I’ve ever had.  And to make sure my mojito was never watered down by melting ice, I froze watermelon puree in ice cube trays.  Big Guy thought I was pretty brilliant.  Incredibly refreshing and perfectly sweet.

After some competitive corn hole, we cleaned ourselves up so that we could have a Cuban “appy” hour.  On the menu:  plantain chips with guacamole.  

I seriously cannot describe how amazing these little bites were.  Plantains were sliced thin using a mandoline and then fried until crispy.  The guacamole was a simple mash-up (literally) of avocados, garlic, lime juice and cilantro.  I think I ate my weight in plantains.

If the day couldn’t get any more delicious, we had plans for Cuban Sandwiches – complete with homemade Cuban bread, homemade peach mustard and crock-pot Cuban pork.

I’m certain we used every appliance in our kitchen on Saturday.

cuban bread

I can’t get over how amazing homemade bread tastes.  And it makes your house smell amazing.  It was super crusty on the outside but soft and doughy on the inside.  We’ve been impressing ourselves in the bread department these past couple of weekends.

No Cuban is complete without mustard and pickles.  We put a Southern twist on the sandwich with homemade peach mustard.  Yes, you can make mustard at home and it’s so easy.  Sweet and tangy.  And the perfect complement to the savory pork, ham and Swiss cheese.

cuban

Pictures don’t do this sandwich justice.  I ate myself into a food coma.  #allthecarbs

Crusty bread
Sour, crunchy pickles
Tender, slow-cooked pork
Salty ham
Sweet and tangy peach mustard
Sharp Swiss cheese

And while we might have had a simple day at home on Saturday, in my mind I was in Havana.

{virtual} coffee chat

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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…

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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:

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{virtual} coffee chat

Let’s grab a cup of coffee and pretend that the weekend isn’t over.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about our 4th of July weekend.  And I’d want to hear about yours, too.  This 4th of July was different than most but it was relaxed and enjoyable.  I really didn’t know what to do with myself on Saturday when I had no one to cook for.  Our 4th of July dinner included a few “trashed” up appetizers,  delicious ribs, sausage and a beautiful salad.  Oh, and bubbles.  (Thank you again, Kimberly and Jeremy for having us over!)

trashed apps

dinner

rose

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I picked up the longest sparklers I’ve ever seen for our 4th of July celebration.  Sparklers = 4th of July.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our zucchini is out of control.  I see a zucchini lasagna in our future.  But I used one of the zucchinis to make Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.  

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about the book I finished this weekend, Life from Scratch.  It was so good.  I’ve always loved memoirs and this one takes you on a journey involving food, family and forgiveness.  It’s brilliant.  And it includes recipes.  And she has a blog.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about how we made bacon.  (!!!!!)  Last Sunday we began the process and we finally got to smoke it yesterday and fry up a few slices.  More on what we did with the bacon later.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I’m already looking forward to the weekend.  Big Guy is taking me out on a date and mojitos are on the menu for Saturday (National Mojito Day!).  Gosh, I love this guy.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would leave you with these two words: