Tomato and Avocado Stack

“Poach an egg” should be added to my list from yesterday.  

I had every intention of there being a poached egg on top of my tomato and avocado stack.  I watched a video.  I read a few articles.  And after trying to poach all the eggs in the fridge, I gave up.

I’m fairly certain that my water wasn’t hot enough.  There’s a fine line between “simmer” and “boil.”

Regardless – the stack was delicious and super simple.  And instead of an egg, I paired some yogurt on the side for a little protein.

I missed the egg but it wasn’t like I didn’t try.

A tomato is sliced and then layered with avocado slices.  Instead of olive tapenade, I simply chopped up a few olives and arranged them on the stack.  A hefty sprinkle pepper and salt rounded out the plate along with a couple of sliced cherry tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

I honestly don’t know how a poached egg would have balanced on top – that last tomato was sliding quite a bit.

Every time I see or hear about a poached egg, I tell myself that I’m going to master that technique in the kitchen.  And after my “fail” with this dinner, more than ever do I want to learn.

I received a few tips including salt the water and add vinegar, so wish me luck!

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)

Tomato-Peach Salad with Brown Sugar-Brined Chicken

Summer is such a delicious time of the year.

A simple salad is anything but boring when you add homegrown tomatoes and local peaches.

And forget about dry chicken.  A brown sugar brine keeps the chicken tender.

A dressing is made by whisking together red pepper jelly and olive oil along with lime zest, lime juice, chopped basil, salt and pepper.

We grilled the peaches for a couple of minutes before tossing them and the peaches with the dressing.

A crisp bed of tender butter lettuce is topped with sliced grilled chicken and then the tomato and peach mixture.

I loved the flavor combinations.

Sweet, juicy peaches.

Vine-ripened tomatoes.

Herbaceous basil.

Zippy lime zest and juice.

A little spice from the red pepper jelly.

And tender, succulent chicken.

I made the salad a little fancier by sipping a glass of rosé.

 

Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Tomato Salad

There is no shortage of zucchini in our garden this year!  And while some may get tired of the same vegetable “over” producing, I love getting creative and being “forced” to find new ways to use “old” veggies.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats are incredibly simple and require minimal ingredients.  I found that my grapefruit spoons were the best way to remove the zucchini pulp.  Once you’ve made boats out of the zucchini, microwave them until tender – about four minutes.  This is a huge time saver.  Microwave = less oven time!

While the zucchini is being zapped, make the stuffing portion of the boats.  Sauteed onion and turkey sausage and the zucchini pulp.  Fill the boats evenly.

Each zucchini is then topped with mozzarella and panko (I used gluten-free).  Broil until browned and the cheese is melted.

On the side, a simple tomato salad.  Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil are tossed with a balsamic vinegar dressing.  The epitome of summer.

There is nothing like homegrown produce.

Healthy, filling and satisfying.

Now what am I going to do with all these jalapenos…

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.

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.