A Memorial Day Weekend Special

flags_daisiesWarm, sunny with a chance of thunderstorms! It doesn’t happen often but it looks like the Memorial Day Weekend will really, truly kick off summer this year. All the more reason to dust of the grill, toss a few salads and enjoy a holiday cookout. Now, comes the question, what to serve?

Relax on the deck with a glass of wine and a duo of crostini. I’d like to suggest my Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad and Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts. Dust off the lawn chairs, sit back and relax with family and friends while the grill heats up.

Now for the main course. What could be more traditional than a burger? However, not just any burger will do. Give my Not Your Ordinary Burger with goat cheese and sundried tomato aioli or my Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa. Tradition demands that you add a few salads. You love my Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado. It’s definitely one of my favorites. Next, what could be more traditional than spuds? My New Potato Salad Dijon is simple and delicious.

Don’t forget dessert. When I was a kid, my mother baked a batch of brownies every weekend in the summer. My Cheesecake Brownies or Triple Threat Brownies (or both) are perfect for the long holiday weekend.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you up to this 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

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A Memorial Day Cookout & Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad

grilled_pork_chopOfficial or not, New England kicks off summer on Memorial Day weekend. The sky can be gray, rain may fall and the black flies can be vicious. It doesn’t matter. We New Englanders are a tough breed. If it’s wet, we’ll throw on a raincoat. If it’s dry, we’ll roll down our sleeves and slather on the bug repellent. Summer is short so please excuse us if we want to get an early jump on the season.

The best way to take a flying leap into summer is a cookout. So what if gale winds are whipping across the lake, it’s time to get your grill on. Call your friends, your family and neighbors and have a ball. Now, it’s been awhile so before you pick up the phone, here are a few essentials to help make your Memorial Day cookout memorable … in a good way.

Check the propane tank or buy a new bag of charcoal. Nothing puts the damper on a cookout faster than charcoal that refuses to light after sitting in a puddle in the garage all winter. Same goes for an empty propane tank. Gas grillers, if you don’t have a spare tank – think about investing in one. It’s a trick that I learned from my dad. That spare has saved the party more than once.

While you are routing around in the garage for the grill, find your cooler and give it a good scrub. Ditto for the outdoor furniture. How’s that for an added bonus? A Memorial Day cookout is a great motivator for getting the porch ready for summer.

Devise your menu. It’s a patriotic holiday so you may opt for traditional burgers and dogs. Even if you do, you can push the envelope with some interesting appetizers, sides and sweets. Sure, you can pick up a container of humus, a quart of potato salad and a sheet cake at the supermarket but it will taste like supermarket humus, potato salad and sheet cake. Perhaps I’m prejudice but I can’t help but believe that homemade not only tastes better; it’s better for you. When you make it yourself, you control the fat, sugar and salt. In addition, your dinner won’t be loaded down with preservatives or artificial ingredients.

While everyone likes them, as far as I know, there is no rule that says burgers and dogs are de rigeur for Memorial Day weekend. Show off your cosmopolitan flair and culinary prowess with dishes from around the world. Perhaps you’d like to try a Provençal picnic, Korean barbecue or even pizza on the grill. After all, we are a melting pot nation.

Take it up a notch. You may be tempted to load a case of America into the cooler. (In case you missed it, America is the temporary new name for Budweiser.) The timing is right; Bud’s newly rebranded cans hit the shelves yesterday. But, c’mon, you know you can do better. New England is the center of the universe when it comes to microbreweries. Okay, maybe not the center of the universe but we have more than our fair share of local, artisanal brews. Splurge a little and serve some of the best beer New England has to offer.

beach_binGo casual, pretty and green. It’s a cookout. There’s no need to break out the good china. Or any china or glassware for that matter. You can find colorful, reusable plastic dishes at your favorite department, discount or craft store. Okay, so maybe it’s not as easy as throwaway plates and glasses. But think of the trees you’ll save not to mention the landfill. Complete your table with a pretty tablecloth and pots of geraniums. You know you are going to buy geraniums anyway. Use them for your picnic table this weekend and plant them by the front door on Tuesday morning.

Enjoy the long weekend and bon appétit!

Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatzik & Greek SaladCrostini_w_Red_Pepper_Tzatzik_Greek_Salad_03
A delicious small bite, these crostini will be even better when local tomatoes are available. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 dozen crostini

1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
1 pint cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1-2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
16 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
Red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal and toasted or 6 small pita, quartered and toasted
About 6 ounces feta, crumbled

Make the tzatziki: put the cucumber in a fine mesh sieve, sprinkle liberally with salt and let drain for about 30 minutes. Rinse the cucumber, drain well and pat dry with a clean dishtowel or paper towels.

Put the yogurt, roasted pepper, garlic, herbs and sriracha in a food processor and process until smooth.

Put the cucumber and yogurt mixture into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Make the salad: put the tomatoes, arugula, olives and scallion in a bowl, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons each vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Assemble the crostini: spread a dollop of tzatziki onto each slice of toasted baguette, top with a generous spoonful of salad and sprinkle with feta. Serve immediately.

You can assemble the crostini and pass or set everything out let your guests assemble.

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One Year Ago – Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote
Two Years Ago – Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Two Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Four Years Ago – Asparagus Crostini with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese
Five Years Ago – Wheat Berry Salad
Six Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Seven Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup

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

How will you spend the long holiday weekend? Feel free to share.

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

Memorial Day Weekend and Time for a Cookout Special

Memorial Day Weekend! Time to roll the grill out of the garage for the first cookout of the summer! Get your friends and family together for some old fashioned fun and good food.

Start with a dip or two and let your guests wander, meet and greet. You can pick something up at the grocery store or take it up a notch with my Caponata or Baba Ganoush or both! Serve the dips with pita chips or crostini and fresh veggies.

grilling_asparagus_02What’s next? What will you throw on the grill? Fish, fowl, a steak or a burger? Take your pick from my Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa, Red Hot Barbequed ChickenGrilled Rib Eye with Compound Butter or Not Your Ordinary Burger. Complete the main course with a couple of salads. Think green and give my Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado a try. A tasty pasta salad is always welcome. Try my Orzo Salad with Lemony Pesto & Grilled Tomatoes or Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables.

chocolate_peanut_butter_tart_04Top it all off with a delicious dessert. If you have not had enough rhubarb yet, it’s still in season and delicious in my Rhubarb Crisp. Alternatively, what could be more American on this Memorial Day Weekend than my Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart.

Have a great weekend) and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate the Memorial Day 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, 2015

National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day & Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa

Charlotte_baking_February_10 - CopyWith homework, soccer, music and dance classes and who knows what else, September is a busy time for kids – and the parents who cart them around! Now, kids face an additional challenge. September 13th is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day . This unofficial national holiday encourages children across the country to prepare a meal for their families.

It’s not a bad idea. Lots of kids like to cook. For those that don’t, well, a little encouragement couldn’t hurt. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, children can benefit from active involvement in meal planning, preparation and clean-up. Cooking with your kids will help them learn important life skills as well as build self-esteem and foster healthy eating habits.

Start with a trip to the farmers’ market. The kids can help you shop for beautiful produce, fresh eggs and meat. You might even find some local apples for a pie or crisp. Back in the kitchen, children can help in many ways.

Although each child is different, with adult supervision:

Children five years and under can generally:
Read simple recipes
Scrub or rinse fruits and vegetables
Tear greens, break and snap the ends off green beans or asparagus and husk corn
Measure and pour some ingredients
Mash and hand mix
Shake and spread
Use a cookie or biscuit cutter
Roll out dough
Set the table

As they get older, children can do all of the above plus:
Read more complicated recipes
Crack and separate eggs
Grate cheese
Cut soft vegetables, fruits and cheeses with a plastic or dinner knife

Older children can do all of the above plus:
Use the electric mixer
Stir food on the stove
Use and read a candy thermometer
Operate a can opener or food processor

Cooking with kids is also good for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It teaches patience and provides a wonderful bonding experience for you and the kids. When you cook together, you can share more than family recipes. It’s a great opportunity to introduce your children to the cooks and stories behind those recipes.

Get out the aprons and step stool and have fun with your kids in the kitchen! Bon appétit!

Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa
Even if the kids are taking over the kitchen, it’s too early to put away the grill. Mom or Dad can flip the burgers on the grill while the kids set the table for dinner on the porch. Enjoy! Turkey_Burger_Greek_Salsa_03
Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons minced red onion or shallot
1 small carrot, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash or to taste hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 – 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons sour cream
Olive oil
Greek Salsa (recipe follows)
Small pita breads or tortillas

Put the onion, carrot and garlic in a large bowl, season with hot sauce, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Add the turkey and sour cream to the vegetables and gently mix until combined. Impeccably clean hands are great tools for this task. Don’t overwork the turkey or the burgers will be tough. Divide the meat into four pieces and form burgers.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot. Brush both sides of the burgers with a little olive oil.

Place the turkey burgers on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip and continue grilling until cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Place the pita on the grill and, turning once, cook for 1 minute or less.

Pop each turkey burger into a warm pita, top with a dollop of Greek Salsa and serve.

Greek Salsa
Take advantage of local tomatoes before it’s too late. For fun, introduce your children to some interesting heirloom tomatoes. They will love the variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
About 2 ounces feta, crumbled
About 1/4 cup Kalamata or black oil cured olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Put the tomato, cucumber, scallion, garlic, feta, olives and herbs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil and toss again.

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One Year Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Two Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Three Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Four Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Five Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Six Years Ago – Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Omelet

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

Do the children in your house like to cook? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Special

corn_field_07Although September is a beautiful month in New Hampshire, Labor Day weekend signals back-to-school and the end of summer. How will you celebrate the long weekend? At the mall buying school supplies? Closing up the cottage? Or a fun day outdoors … hiking? biking? or relaxing with a book? However you spend the day, bring family and friends together for a late summer cookout in the evening.

Need some help with the menu? How about:

For a great start … Local corn is fantastic these days. Make the most of it with Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa and a few chips. Or revel in the glory of local tomatoes with Gazpacho. Add some Spicy Olives and a few Roasted Almonds.

Fire up the grill when you are ready for dinner.. Grill up some Scallops and Swordfish and serve them both with Olive & Caper Salsa. While you’re at it, throw some veggies on the grill. My Grilled Balsamic Vegetables are wonderful.

double_trouble_chocolate_cupcakes_03And for dessert? It’s my mother’s birthday on Friday. She’ll be eighty-five! So cupcakes are definitely in order. I’ll be baking up a batch of Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes. Mom has Alzheimer’s Disease and living in an assisted living facility. I’m looking forward to celebrate wih her and the wonderful staff at Woodcrest. If there is no birthday party at your house … how about some blueberries from your local pick-your-own farm! I’ve been fiddling with my Blueberry Crisp. Instead of ground ginger, I’m adding about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger as well as the grated zest and juice of one lemon. I made it for a family dinner last weekend and may have to do it again in the next day or two. Then again, for a change, I could go with Blueberry Crumb Cake.

Happy birthday to my mom, have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

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, 2014