Late August Weekend Special

Pleasant_Lake_SneakersIt might be late August but summer is still with us. The evenings have been lovely, a little chilly but lovely. There’s plenty of time to enjoy an easy evening outside with friends, family and a little grillin’.

Dig out your jeans from the bottom of the drawer, find your most comfortable sweater and have a great evening on the porch. Put the music on, your feet up and relax. Here are a few suggestions for a delicious late summer dinner outside:

Start with a glass of wine and a great appetizer. With local corn and tomatoes at their peak, you’ll love my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa. If you are feeling the need for a little variety, add a platter of Fresh Tomato Crostini. (I can’t get enough fresh, local tomatoes – what about you?)

Now, what about dinner? I’m thinking a taste of Asia sounds good. How about marinating some boneless chicken breasts in my Spicy Hoisin Marinade and grilling to perfection. Add a spoonful of  Slaw and some Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Save room for something sweet because my Berry Peachy Crisp is something special. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a bowl of ripe peaches  on your counter, it’s too late. Don’t sorry, put a six or ten peaches in a brown, paper bag and make the crisp in a few days. For this weekend, try my Blueberry Clafouti instead.

My brother John photobombing the Berry Peachy Crisp.

Have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

What to Love about Late August & Berry Peachy Crisp

corn_field_06As kids, we greeted the end of August with mixed feelings. The start of the school year was looming. After a long, lazy summer, we were almost looking forward to going back to school. Almost. Sure, we’d get to see all the kids we’d missed since June but a return to suburbia and the classroom meant the end of carefree fun and freedom.

Rather than grumble, we mostly went into denial. A whole day or more could go by without a single thought of our imminent return to suburbia. Then we’d trip over one of our summer reading books and realize it was almost over. Or we’d need to put on a sweater first thing in the morning. Shrugging into a pullover, our thoughts might turn ever so briefly to the bitter and sweet of back-to-school shopping. Let’s face it; back-to-school or not, what girl doesn’t love a new pair of shoes?

With September in our sights, we don’t need to grumble or go into denial. Here are more than a few things to love about late August:

In spite of needing a sweater at either end of the day, shorts and a t-shirt, flip-flops and those cute, little sundresses still dominate our wardrobes.

The dog has stopped panting. Grab a Frisbee and let Fido run and jump to his heart’s content.

Local corn and tomatoes are not just plentiful; they are at their best. Slice and dice them into salsas and salads, stir the tomatoes into soup and the corn into chowder. Just remember; in New England, we never put tomatoes in the chowder.

You can bake again. In an effort to keep the house from overheating, you’ve probably kept the oven off limits for weeks. How does a warm blueberry muffin or peach crisp sound?

In spite of an earlier sunset, you can still enjoy dinner alfresco. No need to hurry, there is a reason we New Englanders leave our Christmas lights up all year long. Throw on a sweater and bask in the glow of twinkle lights while you nibble a fruity dessert or s’more.

Speaking of which, those earlier sunsets and cooler evenings are perfect for bonfires and s’mores.

No more tossing and turning in the heat or trying to sleep with noisy fans or deafening air conditioners. Throw open the windows to the cool night air and sleep in luxurious peace.

Even if we are still donning our light and breezy summer wardrobes, old habits die hard. So what if you’re not going back to school this September? That little detail shouldn’t stop you from hitting the shops. The summer stuff is on sale and new fall fashions are starting to arrive.

Although sunrise is a little later, you still needn’t worry about finding a flashlight for your morning walk. Sure, the air has a bit of a chill but pick up the pace. Heck, you might score a personal best.

As much as we love them, the summer people start to leave. The long lines at the supermarket shorten and the seemingly endless wait time for a table at our favorite café disappears.

Enjoy the end of summer! Bon appétit!

Berry Peachy Crisp
Berry_Peachy_Crisp_02Who doesn’t love a fruity crisp? The air is cooling down so turn the oven back on and enjoy!
Serves 8

Butter
1/2 cup or to taste brown sugar
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
3-4 pounds peaches
1 pint blueberries
Crumble Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.

Put the sugar, ginger, zest, cornstarch and spices in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Peel the peaches and cut them into thick wedges. (To peel peaches with ease – first dunk them in boiling water for 20-30 seconds and then immerse them in ice water. The skins will slip off easily.)

Add the peaches, blueberries and lime juice to the sugar mixture and toss to combine. Pour the fruit into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with Crumble Topping.

Put the crisp on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla or ginger ice cream.

You can also bake the crisp early in the day and warm it up in a 275 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pinch nutmeg
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add the oatmeal and pulse until the topping comes together in little lumps.

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One Year Ago – Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
Two Years Ago – Double Trouble Chocolate-Oragne Cupcakes
Three Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Soup with Mascarpone Cream
Five Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa
Six Years Ago – Crostini with Goat Cheese
Seven Years Ago – Corn & Chicken Chowder
Eight Years Ago – Joe Nye’s Perfect Lobster

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What do you love about late summer? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

I Love August Weekend Special

Harvest_MoonI love August. The heavy heat and steamy humidity slip away. You might need a sweater first thing in the morning and again after dinner but the days are warm and dry – just heavenly. It’s the perfect weather for a hike up Mount Kearsarge or a bike ride to nowhere and back again.

Even if you do need a sweater, you can still enjoy an evening cookout. You won’t want to miss the moon rise. It’s a full moon tonight and the weekend promises clear skies.

Here are a few suggestions for a delicious late summer dinner in the moonlight:

Relax and enjoy the sunset and a glass of wine. You can’t beat my Rosemary Cashews for a tasty nibble. Add some crispy veggies and a bowl of Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut Dip.

swordfish_olive_caper_salsa_01When you’re ready for dinner – how about swordfish on the grill? My Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa is a great choice. Add some Israeli Couscous and a great salad. The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye and the tomatoes are phenomenal so you must give my Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & Feta a taste.

blueberries_02It’s August and anything blueberry is a New England tradition. You can pick your own at a local farm or pick up a couple of pints at the farmers’ market for a fabulous dessert. Go old school with Bluebree Grunt or a bit more updated with Blueberry Crostata. While you’re at it, how about a batch of Blueberry Muffins for Sunday morning.

Have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Lessons Learned at the Olympics & Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & Feta

Olympics_2016_02Every four years we find ourselves indoors and glued to the television. It doesn’t matter that it is a brilliant summer evening. The Olympics are on and we can’t help ourselves. The next day’s highlights are not enough. We have to watch the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat live, as it happens.

On the track, on the mats, on the beach, on and even in the water, these star athletes seem to fly without wings. So how do they do it?

Preparation matters. As innately talented and gifted as these world class athletes are, they couldn’t do it without years of training. Not just any training, their entire lives revolve around the practice of their sport. Preparing for the Olympics is not just hard physical work. It takes brains as well as brawn to reach the top.

Since the Olympics come only once every four years, strategy and timing are critical. Peak too early and the medal you’ve dreamed of may go to someone else. Even worse, an injury can thwart a lifetime of preparation and sacrifice. Whether you are training for a Labor Day fun run or looking for your next promotion, preparation matters for us mere mortals too.

Perseverance matters. Unlike many weekend warriors, Olympic athletes are committed. They don’t take the winter off because it’s too cold to train outdoors. They don’t skip a day or two when a heat wave turns the gym into a sauna. They don’t bail in the middle of race because they have no chance of winning.

Perseverance is about both the big and little things an athlete does every day. Same goes for us and the goals we pursue. Whether you’re fighting for the little league trophy or a science fair medal, a last ditch, Herculean effort is rarely enough. If you’re smart and fast, you might be able to wing it once, even twice. However, day-in and day-out discipline is more likely to take you to and keep you at the top.

Patience matters. The road to Rio was long and winding. These premiere athletes had a dream of what could be. They are stars because they have the courage to make it happen. These exceptional competitors have the confidence to believe in themselves and developed the strength and the stamina to make their goals a reality. You can too.

No matter what path we choose, few of us will have it straight and smooth from start to end. Patience, a willingness to rethink and try again and again, can make all the difference. Olympic athletes fight through pain, make choices and countless sacrifices. It’s unlikely that our picture will end up on a cereal box but we too make choices. To win, you must define your goals and determine the sacrifices you are willing to make.

Sportsmanship matters. Olympic athletes are committed to excellence in their sport. As spectators, we want even more from them. We want to see that decency and kindness has helped shape and define that commitment and excellence. Perhaps this summer, more than ever, for ourselves and for our children, we want our sports heroes to be shining examples of character and grace under pressure. Then, it is our turn to do the same.

Enjoy the games! Bon appétit!

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & FetaTomatoes_Grilled_Corn_Cuke_Feta_07
This recipe borrows a little of this and that from a traditional Greek Salad and then takes it south of the border. Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 ears corn, husks removed
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
2-3 small pickling cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 scallions thinly sliced
Spicy Vinaigrette (recipes follows)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
About 4 ounces feta cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high. Lightly coat the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the corn on the grill and cook on high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and, when the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob.

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter or individual plates, top with the corn kernels, cucumbers and scallion and drizzle with Spicy Vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs, garnish with feta and serve.

Spicy Vinaigrette
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon or to taste minced jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Tiny pinch smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, garlic and jalapeno in a bowl, season with cumin, paprika , salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk until smooth. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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One Year Ago – Bluebree Grunt
Two Years Ago – Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache
Three Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Four Years Ago – Filet de Sole Meunière
Five Years Ago – Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp
Six Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Chicken
Seven Years Ago – Corn & Tomato Salad
Eight Years Ago – Summer Rolls

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What lessons have you learned from this summer’s Olympics games? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Steamy Summer Weekend Special

rain_drops_on_grassThink rain forest, hot and steamy with a very good chance of thundershowers, when you make your plans this weekend. Sounds like a good weekend to laze around in a screened porch or on the sofa with an air conditioner going full tilt. There will be plenty of sports to watch with the Olympics.

No matter how slow and lazy the day, eventually, it will be time for dinner. Why not take a break from the Olympics and get together with a few friends for a cookout?

Grab a beer or a glass of wine and something to nibble. If you can find a bottle of Cachaça you can forget the beer and wine and whip up a batch of Caipirinha. For nibbles, how about Corn Cakes or try some of my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa.

grilling_steak_potatoes

When it’s time for dinner – throw a steak on the grill. For a taste of South America, try my Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde. (Not a beef eater? Try the Salsa Verde with Grilled Chicken.) Add some Grilled Red Potatoes and a great salad. For a great salad, try my Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese or Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction.

Ready for dessert? Chocolate sounds good. Stay cool with your favorite ice cream and Death by Chocolate Sauce. Unless you’re like my niece Charlotte and looking forward to my Death by Chocolate Cake. If you prefer cupcakes, try my Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes. All three are positively decadent!

Stay cool and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Olympic Fun Facts & Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde

rio-2016-logoHeld every four years in Olympia to honor Zeus, the ancient Olympics games had a pretty good run. For twelve centuries, athletes ran, jumped, threw javelins and raced chariots. The games went a bit haywire after the Romans conquered Greece. Nero, who is most famous for fiddling while Rome burned, cheated in the 67 AD games. In spite of falling off his chariot mid-race, he declared himself winner. It was downhill from there and the games met their demise at the end of the 4th century AD.

Happily for athletes and sports fans, the games were revived in 1896 with the first modern Olympics. Although there were forty-three different events at the 1896 games, there were no chariot races. The nine-day competition was packed with a multitude of track and field, cycling, fencing, shooting, tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics events. Fourteen nations sent athletes to Athens for the games. More than 200 men competed but not a single woman. That omission was rectified at the second modern Olympiad in Paris in 1900.

A lot has changed since the first few Olympics. Here are a few fun facts about the Rio Games:

Rio 2016 is an Olympic first! Rio de Janeiro beat Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo to become the first South American city to host the games.

Part cat, part monkey and bird, Rio’s Olympic mascot has musical roots. He is named for Vinicius de Moraesis, one of the authors of the bossa nova jazz classic “The Girl From Ipanema.” Unlike some of the more bizarre and even downright frightening mascots of the past, Vinicius is cute in a colorful, cartoonish sort of way.

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are expected to participate in Rio. Five hundred and fifty-four of those athletes make up the US Team.

For the first time men and women without a country will compete at the Olympics. A team of ten refugees will compete under the Olympic flag. The team includes runners from South Sudan, swimmers from Syria, judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a marathon runner from Ethiopia.

Gymnastics, track and field, swimming, tennis, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting are just the start. The list of events may seem endless but there are actually 306. From the sands of Copacabana beach to the legendary Maracanã Stadium, the games will be held at thirty-two different venues.

By the way, rugby returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924 and the US is the defending champion. Golf has waited even longer. It’s returning after more than a century. The last time golf was played at the Olympics was in 1904 in Saint Louis.

Of course, our hopes are high for US victories. Although geopolitics and shifting national boundaries have had an impact, the US is at the top of the charts with an all-time count of 2,681 medals.

A whole lot of cookin’ wi1l be goin’ on in Rio. Tens of thousands of meals will be prepared in the Olympic village every day. Athletes will discover Brazilian staples like black beans and rice and some of the best grillin’ they’ll ever eat!

Enjoy the games! Bon appétit!

Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde
Get out the bossa nova records and whip up a flavorful salsa for a jazzy new take on the backyard cookout. Enjoy!  Grilled_Filets_Mignons_w_Salsa_Verde_06
Serves 8

8 (4-6 ounce) filets mignons or your favorite cut of steak
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

Brush the filets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. (In hot weather, reduce the sitting time.) Preheat a charcoal grill to medium-hot or a gas grill to high.

Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, turn and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes more for medium-rare. Reduce the cooking time for rare and increase for medium. Transfer the filets to a platter or individual plates, top each with a generous spoonful of Salsa Verde and let rest for 5 minutes before serving with more Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde
Serves 8

2-3 tablespoons or to taste sherry vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
3-4 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons or to taste minced jalapeno or serrano chili
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
About 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
About 1 cup cilantro leaves
About 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Put the vinegar and lime juice in the bowl of a small food processor, add garlic and jalapeno, season with the cumin, salt and pepper and pulse to chop and combine. Add the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the lime zest, scallions and herbs and pulse to chop and combine. Let sit for 10-20 minutes before serving

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

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One Year Ago – Corncakes
Two Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Three Years Ago – Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese
Four Years Ago – Shrimp Salad Niçoise
Five Years Ago – Insalata Caprese
Six Years Ago – Mojito Melons
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Antipasto
Eight Years Ago – Nana Nye’s Fish Chowder

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your favorite summer Olympic events? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to <strong><a href=”https://susannye.wordpress.com/a-thing-or-two-more-to-read/&#8221; target=”_blank”>read, see &amp; cook</a></strong>. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Rain, Sun & Fun Summer Weekend Special

Hospital_Day_Parade_04A mixed forecast probably means we’ll need to be flexible when it comes to hanging out at Hospital Days and outdoor fun this weekend. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the sun will come out in time for the Hospital Parade on Saturday afternoon.

After all that fair food, you’ll probably be ready for a healthy and delicious dinner on Sunday. Here a a few suggestions:

Sit back, relax and watch the loons glide by. Sip a glass of wine and enjoy my Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus with fresh veggies and pita chips. It’s delicious. (Feel free to make the hummus during the Saturday morning rain showers.)

Ready for dinner? How about some Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri? Then again, maybe you’d prefer Grilled Hoisin Chicken. Serve either with my Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Asian Slaw.

Now for dessert. Local blueberries are ready for picking. Not enough time? Don’t worry, you can pick some up at the farm stand. Use them to bake a wonderful Blueberry Crumb Cake or Blueberry Pie!

Have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016