About susannye

A corporate dropout, I left IT sales & marketing for the fun, flexibilty & fear of self-employment & freelance writing.

Autumn – A Season of Renewal & Resolutions & Pasta with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes & Feta

This past Saturday marked the autumnal equinox. If you’ve forgotten what that means, well, day and night are each about twelve hours long. For the next few months, with each passing day, the sun will be a little slower to rise and quicker to set. Don’t let the end of summer get you all mopey. The fall is beyond beautiful in New Hampshire.

Most mornings, an enigmatic mist shrouds the lake. On their way south for the winter, geese squawk overhead. The highways and byways become increasingly colorful. Most days, you’ll want to grab a sweater before heading out the door but you can usually shed it by lunch. Speaking of lunch (as well as breakfast, dinner, coffee, cocktails and a snack), pumpkin spice is suddenly in everything from coffee to martinis as well as cheerios, muffins and barbecue sauce. I like pumpkin and I like spice but I think the world has gone a little nuts with this pumpkin spice business.

Anyway, it’s autumn in New England and my favorite time of year. With beautiful weather and foliage, you can’t help but feel good about life. Why not funnel that goodwill into taking another crack at some still unmet challenge? After all, bitterly cold January is hardly a good time to resolve anything. Spring might work but it’s not particularly timely in New England. Then, when it finally comes, it only lasts a few days.

But fall, fall is good. It could be years since you went back-to-school but you still know the joy of new shoes and a fresh start.

What will your fresh start look like? What will you do this fall to renew yourself? You don’t need a total reinvention. How about you work on three things? For instance – try something new that will bring you joy. Next, develop a new habit that will give you peace. Finally, do some good.

Find joy. Besides shoes, where will you find joy this fall? It could be as simple as finally painting the living room that new color. I’m a strong believer in the power of small things. I have made more than a couple big, audacious changes in my life. Most of them worked out very well. More often than not, these life changes were preceded by a considerably smaller step or two.

Discover peace. It could be yoga or meditation or weed wacking the garden – find what brings you peace. You’ll know it when you find it. As if by magic, your overactive brain will relax and you’ll gain new perspective. We are so proud of our ability to multitask that our senses are constantly in overdrive and under attack. Whether it is once a day or once a week, give yourself a break. For one hour, do something that puts your mind at rest and revitalizes you.

Do good. The world can be a harsh place. You can make it better by practicing small acts of kindness. Sure, a huge foundation to end illiteracy or world hunger would be wonderful but small is also good. Rake leaves for a neighbor, hold the door for a stranger and smile. Little things will make the day brighter. A few years ago, someone distributed at least a couple dozen mini pumpkins up and down my street. Perched on stone walls and fence posts, they cheerfully decorated the neighborhood. Those little pumpkins didn’t cure cancer but they made a lot of people smile.

Here’s to a joyful, peaceful and kinder fall. Bon appétit!

Pasta with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes & Feta
It’s much too early to put the grill away. Pasta with grilled vegetables and fresh herbs from the garden is a wonderful dish to help you transition into fall. Enjoy!
Serves 8

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 red onion, cut in thin wedges
Olive oil
About 1 pound cherry tomatoes
4-6 zucchini (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 pound short pasta – try rigatoni, fusilli, cavatappi or fiorelli
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About 4 ounces feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano

Put the garlic and vinegar in a bowl, season with pepper flakes, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the onion in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Put the onion in a grill basket and, stirring from time to time, grill until tender-crisp and lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Remove the onion from the grill, add it to the garlic and toss to combine.

Put the tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Put the tomatoes in a grill basket and, stirring from time to time, grill until lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic and toss to combine.

Brush the zucchini halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini for 4 to 6 minutes per side or until nicely browned and tender. Remove the zucchinis from the grill, chop into bite-size pieces, add them to the other veggies and toss to combine.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions less one minute. Reserving a little pasta water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the vegetables and 1/4-1/2 cup pasta water and toss to combine. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with feta and herbs, toss to combine and serve.

Serve as a main course or side dish with grilled chicken or fish.

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One Year Ago – Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Crema
Two Years Ago – Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verde
Three Years Ago – Applesauce Scones
Four Years Ago – Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard
Five Years Ago – Fettuccine with Fresh Corn & Tomatoes
Six Years Ago – Lemon Rice Cakes with Spinach & Manchego
Seven Years Ago – Apple Crumb Cake
Eight Years Ago – Ginger Scones
Nine Years Ago – Curried Eggplant Soup
Ten Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon

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

Do you have any fall fresh start resolutions? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Welcome Fall Weekend Special

Saturday is the first day of autumn. Summer lovers will be a little mopey this weekend. Cheer them up with a welcome fall cookout. While you might end up eating dinner inside, you don’t need to put the grill away for another month or more. (Although not often, I grill throughout the winter.)

Here are a few ideas for a delicious end of summer cookout:

Before those beautiful local tomatoes are gone for the season … start with Fresh Tomato Crostini. They definitely taste like summer – even if there is a little nip in the air.

Now to the table … one of my favorite summer salads is sure to please. With the grill out you can’t do better than Grilled Romaine Salad.

For your main course … If you have never enjoyed my Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa, now is the perfect time. Serve the fish with a spoonful of Grilled Ratatouille.

There’s always room for dessert … late summer or early fall – it’s time for plums. It’s the perfect weekend for my Cardamom Plum Tort.

Have a great weekend. Bon appétit!

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

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What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Hurricane Season & Grilled Ratatouille

It’s been all over the news. Hurricane season is up and running fast in the Atlantic. From the Caribbean over to Texas and up to Maine, we are all ears when it comes to storm warnings. Last week, Florence unleashed her fury on the southern Atlantic coast. One of the early forecast models suggested she might hug the coast and head north. Lucky for us, she decided to go inland. I’m sure Ohio is lovely this time of year.

Spared for now, let’s not forget that somewhere out there in the Atlantic, Helene (not Helen), Isaac and Joyce are swirling around. In spite of our northern location, New England is not immune to hurricanes. Although, they are admittedly few and far between. Most blow themselves out before they can reach us.

Not so the Great New England Hurricane of 1938; my dad still talks about that one. He even has a book about it somewhere. With 140 mile per hour wind gusts, it unleashed its wrath on every state in New England. Hundreds died, thousands were injured and damages were in the hundreds of millions. More recently, Irene wreaked havoc in New England, most particularly Vermont. Sandy did a number on New York and gave us a bit of rain and wind as well. Lucky for us, last year’s deadly trio of Harvey, Irma and Maria stayed to the south.

I admit as a small child, hurricanes seemed terribly exciting. In those days, we spent August on Cape Cod. While I can’t verify, I suspect that my sister Brenda and I labeled any downpour with the least bit of wind a hurricane. After all, rain is boring but a hurricane – that’s something to talk about.

One rainy August afternoon, Brenda and I were encamped on the porch with paper dolls and sticker books. It didn’t take long for boredom to set in. The air was hot and muggy so we talked Mom into letting go outside. It wasn’t that difficult a negotiation. Stuck in a ramshackle cottage with two bored little girls – of course, she said yes. I suppose she would have turned us down if we’d tried to go out in the Great New England Hurricane. However, we hadn’t been born yet. Heck, my parents hadn’t even met, let alone finished elementary school in 1938.

Anyway, Brenda and I gleefully threw on our swimsuits, ran outside and danced around. I believe loud and joyous singing was involved but I don’t remember the tune. I cannot speak for Brenda but I, for one, felt wonderfully adventurous. While the street was more or less empty, most of the porches were filled with bored vacationers.

They sat and watched two silly little girls giggle, dance and sing. I’m sure they were jealous. While they huddled with their paperbacks and puzzles, we were the only ones brave enough to defy the hurricane. It didn’t matter that, at most, it was the last vestiges of some minor tropical storm. It didn’t matter then and it still doesn’t. As far as I’m concerned, my sister and I splashed, danced and sang in the street during a hurricane. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here’s a toast to sunny days and clear nights. Bon appétit!

Grilled Ratatouille
A delicious end of summer dish. You can even make it if the power goes out. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1-2 red bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed and roughly chopped
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cherry tomatoes
2 eggplants (about 2 pounds), sliced about 3/4-inch thick
3-4 zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the peppers and onion in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Working in batches if necessary, put the vegetables in a grill basket and grill for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Remove the vegetables from the grill basket and return them to the bowl. Add the garlic to the warm vegetables and toss to combine.

Put the tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Working in batches if necessary, put the tomatoes in a grill basket and grill for 4-6 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the tomatoes to the peppers and onion.

Brush the eggplant and zucchini slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant and zucchini for 4 to 6 minutes per side or until nicely browned and tender.

Remove the vegetables from the grill. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, chop the veggies in bite-size pieces. Add them to the tomatoes, peppers and onion. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and toss to combine.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Can be prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving

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One Year Ago – Cod, Corn & White Bean Soup
Two Years Ago – Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Icing
Three Years Ago – Applesauce Scones
Four Years Ago – Roasted Beet Tatin with Goat Cheese & Walnuts
Five Years Ago – Fettuccine with Fresh Corn & Tomatoes
Six Years Ago – Chicken Parmagiana with Spaghetti Marinara
Seven Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc
Eight Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Soup
Nine Years Ago – Rustic Apple Tart
Ten Years Ago – Brie & Sundried Tomato Omelette

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

How do you keep fit? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Welcome September Weekend Special

After a bunch of soggy days, I’m ready for a little sun. It looks like the weekend will cooperate. That’s not the case for our friends to the south facing Florence. To you, I send my best wishes for a safe weekend. Please don’t be heroes – get out of there. Go someplace safe; come here if you like.

Rain or sun, what will you be cooking this weekend? How about you invite friends in for the best of the harvest and a little spice?

Okay, lets start with… Summer Rolls. They definitely are one of my favorite summer appetizers. If you are short on time, whip up a batch of my Peanut Sesame Dipping Sauce and serve it with fresh veggies.

Now to the table … for a refreshing salad, give my Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad or Vietnamese Salad a try.

For your main course … the season is so short, you’ll want to get your fill of delicious local corn! How about you stir up a pot of my Spicy Shrimp, Corn and Coconut Soup. It’s delicious.

There’s always room for dessert … is it too late for local blueberries?
How about a Blueberry Pie or Almost Nana Nye’s Blueberry Cake. No – well … chocolate is always in season. You’ll love my Chocolate Panna Cotta.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

 

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

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Namaste & Spicy Shrimp, Corn and Coconut Soup

I’m guessing that most all of my family, friends and acquaintances know about my daily walk around Pleasant Lake. A whole lot of other people probably know about it too. Not only do I mention these daily walks in this column from time to time but more than a few vehicles pass me as I make my way around. Take for instance, the school bus, all those plumbers vans and more than a couple trucks of trucks. As they pass me, I wave and the drivers usually wave back.

What you probably don’t know is that I also take a yoga class. It’s not a daily thing. Although for a little while, I was doing a couple of sun salutations every morning. However, it’s been quite a while since I gave a morning salute. These days, I pretend I don’t have time. Truth be told, I just haven’t made it a priority.

Once a week, I do make it a priority to throw on my yoga pants, grab my mat and get ready to stretch, bend and glide through an hour. Well, two of those things are sort-of but not really true. I did not go to the yoga pant store or even online. Instead, I found a pair of leggings tucked away in the shampoo and vitamin aisle at the supermarket. They’re mostly cotton and very comfortable. So comfortable in fact that I went back and bought some more. Once the weather turns cool, they are my hanging-out-at-home pants of choice. The other not quite true thing is, well, I don’t really glide. I can more or less hold my own with the bending and stretching but, try as I might, I tend to lurch more than glide.

If you’ve been thinking that you might like to take up yoga, there are lots of good reasons. Some are much too technical for me for me to explain let alone believe. So, here’s what I can say about my practice:

Yoga helps with balance … anyone who lives anywhere with an icy, snowy winter knows that balance is important. I suppose, the older I get, the more important good balance is. Plus, it’s fun to show off and stand on one leg in front of non-yogi friends.

Yoga helps me stay limber … my mom was a wonderful person and I love her dearly. However, arthritis is part of her legacy. (Running took its toll as well.) Yoga is great for deep stretching and bending and working all the little kinks out.

Yoga helps me build strength … with all the walking (and before that running), I have very strong legs. However, a number of smart people have been telling me for years that I need to develop better upper body strength. Yoga does that for me. Along with my arms and shoulders, it helps build my core muscles. Increasing core strength has been wonderful for the arthritis in my back.

Yoga helps me find peace and focus … to-do lists, telephones, texts, email, social media – they are all there, all the time. Together, they tag team to successfully distract and sometimes distress. However, for one hour each week, I can relax and focus on bending, stretching and, yes, lurching from one move to the next. Any noise in my head is stilled while I focus on that little spot on the floor, stand on one leg and find peace.

If you search for them, you can find one hundred reasons to take up yoga. From regulating your adrenal gland to weight loss. Like I already mentioned, some, make that most, of those reasons are too technical for me for me to explain let alone believe.

Namaste and bon appétit!

Spicy Shrimp, Corn and Coconut Soup
The local harvest is at its peak. It’s time to fire up the grill and make delicious magic with some of my favorite vegetables. Enjoy!
Serves 8

6-8 ears yellow or bicolor corn
Olive oil
About 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
About 12 ounces red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Sea salt to taste
2 quarts shrimp, vegetable or chicken broth or a mix
3 cups (2 15-ounce cans) unsweetened coconut milk
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Garnish: cilantro leaves, unsweetened toasted coconut flakes and/or chopped toasted peanuts

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and transfer to a bowl. Use the back of a dinner knife to scrape the cobs and release the milky juices into another bowl. Set aside.

Lightly coat a soup kettle with olive oil and heat on medium. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno, sprinkle with cumin and coriander and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the potato pieces and corn juices, season with salt, toss to combine and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer the soup for about 8 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. If you like, remove from the heat and use a potato masher or fork to lightly smash the potatoes.

Raise the heat and return the soup to a boil, add the shrimp and corn, season with salt and stir to combine. When the soup returns to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through and pink.

Add the lime juice and zest and stir to combine. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with cilantro, coconut flakes and/or peanuts and serve.

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One Year Ago – Hoisin Pork Ribs
Two Years Ago – Curried Carrot Soup
Three Years Ago – Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts
Four Years Ago – Baked Haddock with Fresh Tomatoes & Herbs
Five Years Ago – Pumpkin-Ginger Muffins
Six Years Ago – Roast Pork with Apples & Onions
Seven Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc
Eight Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Soup
Nine Years Ago – Rustic Apple Tart
Ten Years Ago – Oktoberfest Sausages & Sauerkraut

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

How do you keep fit? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Back on Cook’s Corner – Roasted Cauliflower

With temperatures cooling down … it will soon be time to take cooking back indoors. I’m back on ABC affiliate WMUR’s Cook’s Corner today roasting cauliflower.

I love roasted vegetables. From Brussels Sprouts to Parsnips, they are wonderful. One of my favorites is the very versatile Roasted Cauliflower.

This delicious side dish pairs beautifully with roasted anything – chicken, lamb, beef or salmon. If you have leftovers, toss them with pasta, a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Shoes & Grilled Eggplant Caponata

I have this thing about shoes. I like them … a lot. It’s possible I like them as much as Imelda. However, since I don’t have her resources; my collection is both smaller and considerably more modest. Besides, unlike the Philippines’ former first lady, I’m a sneakers and flats kind of girl.

In my defense, my addiction to shoes has improved. Why, it’s been at least a year, since I bought a new pair. Okay, maybe six months and it was three pairs, I guess I should avoid alternative facts. In my defense, they were all on sale and a step above the definitely adorable but oh so casual flats I generally wear. What’s a girl to do?

Confession time – I do need to be careful with this buying on sale business. I love a bargain but it often means buying out of season. I have been known to purchase sandals in October and forget about them by the time summer rolls around. Same goes for buying boots in May. Oh, my goodness, the trials and tribulations of a first world woman.

Growing up, back-to-school shopping always included a trip to Bob Dexter’s Shoes on Central Street. To avoid a return visit in the busy weeks to come, Mom really took care of business. That’s when I learned an important lesson – never settle for one pair, when you can buy three.

First, foremost and absolutely mandatory – new school shoes were on the list. Mom always insisted we start there. If a fire broke out and cut our shopping short, we were not leaving that store without a sturdy pair of Buster Browns. I guess the doctor told her that young feet need lots of support. Until I was nine or ten, I was stuck with those dreadful brown brogues. In third or fourth grade, Mom finally relented and I was able to move on to penny loafers.

Now, Mom was hardly heartless. To make up for the brogues and salve my wounded feminine pride, she would let me pick out a new pair of patent leather Mary Janes. They were for Sunday school and birthday parties. Finally, after a summer playing outside, my sneakers were worn and torn – just the way I liked them. Mom didn’t agree and a new pair of Keds went into the bag.

Although, it has its roots in elementary school, this love affair with shoes began in earnest once I hit adolescence. That’s when things got both interesting and complicated. A woman in search of an identity, from one day to the next, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a perky preppy or a cool hippie.

The perky preppy in me coveted shiny flats and Pappagallo was the brand of choice. These sweet little emblems of conservative style came in a rainbow of colors and were decorated with flowers, buckles and cutouts. The bohemian wanted no name ballet flats or funky black cotton slippers. The slippers had orange rubber soles, straps like Mary Janes and were made in China. The hippie shoes were considerably cheaper than the colorful flats. However, they didn’t last more than a month or so.

For now, I’ll stay out of the shops. Better to stick with the trio of flats I bought last winter and then forgot in the back of the closet. Black leather, the faux snakeskin and shiny pink – what could be better – a different pair for every mood. Just like Mom, I like a bargain and buy in threes.

Happy Almost Fall and bon appétit!

Grilled Eggplant Caponata
The local harvest is at its peak. It’s time to fire up the grill and make delicious magic with some of my favorite vegetables. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon or to taste red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons or to taste red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons or to taste extra virgin olive oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into thick slices
1 large red onion, cut in thick rings
1 pint grape tomatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2-3 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Make the vinaigrette: put the garlic, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil and continue whisking until well combined. Set aside.

Preheat grill to high. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the onion and tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Put the onion and tomatoes in a grill basket and grill for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time. Grill the eggplant for 4 to 6 minutes per side until nicely browned and tender. Remove the vegetables from the grill. When they are cool enough to handle, finely chop the veggies.

Give the vinaigrette another whisk, add the vegetables, olives, pine nuts and capers and toss to combine. Add the parsley and mint and toss again. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with pita chips for an appetizer or use as a salsa with grilled chicken, lamb or fish.

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One Year Ago – Savory Rosemary Biscotti
Two Years Ago – Dilly Beans
Three Years Ago– All Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Four Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Five Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Six Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Eight Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Nine Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Ten Years Ago – Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Omelet

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

What’s your not-so-secret indulgence? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018