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

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.

{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!

 

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.

 

Herbed Shrimp Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Feta

Salads are pretty much a daily happening in my life.  I love salads.  For many reasons.  And I find that salads I make at home are 9 out of 10 times better than any restaurant salad.  One of the reasons I love salads is because every salad is different.

Herbed Shrimp Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Feta is a total winner of a salad.  We haven’t had shrimp in a while so it was extra delicious – not to mention it was wild caught off the NC coast.  There is nothing better than fresh, local seafood.

The shrimp are quick marinated in a mix of ingredients that took a whirl in the food processor:  parsley, oregano, EVOO, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and honey.

The salad greens are a mix of baby lettuces plus sliced radicchio and homegrown fennel.  The greens are tossed in half of the mixture from above.

I pan seared the shrimp until cooked through but still tender.

Each bed of lettuce was topped with sliced baby heirlooms (local!), feta cheese and shrimp.

We LOVED this salad.  Fresh and absolutely delicious.