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

First Cookout of the Season & Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado

Covered_bridge_flagHere, there and more or less everywhere, Memorial Day has been declared the unofficial start of summer. The pressure is on to throw the first cookout of the season. That said; planning a Memorial Day anything could be dicey business in New Hampshire. I don’t think it has ever snowed on Memorial Day but I could be wrong. Let’s hope for sunshine with a smattering of laughter and a whiff of fragrant smoke from barbeque and burgers on the grill.

You can help make it happen. Do your sun dance, make a few phone calls and roll the grill out of the garage. It’s been awhile so here are a few helpful hints for a great cookout.

Three letters: ICE. No one likes warm beer or lemonade, so, on a (hopefully) warm evening, you can never have enough ice. Load up a cooler or oversized tub with lots of ice and your favorite beverages.

About those drinks. If it’s a long afternoon-into-evening kind of party, it’s can’t be all cocktails, wine and beer. Make sure you have plenty of water, lemonade and soft drinks to keep everyone hydrated and safe on the road. Consider serving shandies as the party’s signature drink. A fifty-fifty mix of beer and lemonade or ginger beer, a shandy is a refreshing choice. When it comes to logistics, avoid a logjam by separating the drink area from the food table.

Wonderful food. From the appetizers to dessert and everything in between, focus on great ingredients and delicious recipes. When you go to all that trouble, keep everything fresh and safe. Don’t let dinner sit in the hot sun for hours. Leave everything in the refrigerator until you are more or less ready to cook and serve.

Unless you have a ginormous grill and very patient friends, save that piece of blazing real estate for the main event. Grilled veggies, tossed into a salad or arranged on a platter, will make a delicious addition to the meal. However, get them on and off the grill before your guests arrive.

You can’t be everywhere at once. It’s okay to outsource the grillwork. Just make sure you choose wisely. Beware of the hyper attentive cook. You know the type. He (or she but usually he) will poke, prod and push dinner all over the grill until it is dried out and overcooked. On the other end of the spectrum, avoid your easily distracted friend. Before the chicken is ready to turn, he (or she, it could be either) will wander off for a game of touch football or join an emergency run to the store for more ice.

Keep it casual. One of the many reasons that everyone loves a cookout is the easy, breezy, wear-your-bare-feet attitude. If for some strange reason, you are tempted to take it up a notch – don’t. Remember high heels and grass doesn’t mix. Leave the preppy blazers and designer dresses to Gatsby. This is New Hampshire not the Hamptons.

Keep it comfortable. At some point in the evening, some or all of your guests will be ready to pull up a chair. Make sure you have plenty to go around. It’s okay to ask a friend or two to bring a few spares. In addition, don’t forget it’s only the end of May. It can get downright chilly as soon as the sun goes down. Be prepared to move inside.

Don’t forget the tunes. From the classic to the latest hits, create a playlist of summery tunes on one of the internet radio stations and blast it into the backyard. Of course, the Beach Boys are a must as well as Alice Cooper wailing School’s Out. The rest is up to you.

Have a great weekend with family and friends. Bon appétit!

Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado  Mixed Greens_Grilled_Asparagus_Cucumber_Avocado_02
nderful combination of flavors and textures for your next cookout, smoky grilled asparagus meets crunchy cucumbers and creamy avocado. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Sherry-Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 1/2-2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed
4-8 scallions
Olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 8 ounces arugula or mixed baby greens
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
About 1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

Make the vinaigrette (recipe follows).

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Put the asparagus and scallions in a large dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Arrange the asparagus and scallions on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook, the asparagus should be tender-crisp. Remove from the grill, drizzle with lemon juice and cool to room temperature. If you like, chop the asparagus and scallions.

Put the greens in a bowl, add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine. Transfer the greens to a platter or individual plates. Put the cucumber in the bowl, add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine. Arrange the asparagus, avocado, cucumber and scallions on top of the greens and serve.

Sherry-Citrus Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, citrus juices, mustard, shallot and garlic in a blender, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil to taste and continue processing until well combined.

Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator before serving.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
Two Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Three Years Ago – Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
Four Years Ago – Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Five Years Ago – Feta Walnut Spread
Six Years Ago – Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the long Memorial Day Weekend? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Back on WMUR: Cook’s Corner – Time for a Cookout

flag_banner_01It’s been on again-off again sunny and cloudy but I’m doing my sun dance! Memorial Day is a great day for a cookout.

I’m whipping up a colorful slaw today on Cook’s Corner …. I hope you’ll give my Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts a try! If you’re not sure what else to serve – give my Memorial Day Cookout Menu a read. I hope it gives you a few good ideas!

In case you missed it …. Watch the Video!


Enjoy the day 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

Memorial Day Weekend Special – Time for a Cookout

Covered_bridge_flagHow will you spend Memorial Day? A trip to the beach? A hike in the mountains? A garden marathon of planting, pruning and weeding? A fun and friendly 5K? (The Black Fly Blitz is a local favorite.) However, you spend the day; a cookout is a good way to end it. Delight everyone with festive feast or organize your friends for a fabulous potluck.

Here are a few ideas!

To nibble while you meet, greet, mix and mingle. Well, how about Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp? Or maybe some White Bean Hummus or Feta-Walnut Spread with fresh veggies and pita chips some.

On to the main event! You can throw some burgers and dog on the grill or take it up a notch with some delicious Barbecue Chicken or Spicy Grilled Chicken. Of course you’ll need a few sides … Grilled Balsamic Vegetables will be great. Make sure you grill some asparagus – it’s in season! if you are thinking traditional, a slaw should be on the menu. But make it special with my Jicama Slaw or Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts. Speaking of traditional, how about a great potato salad. Not sure which is my favorite, New Potato Salad Dijon or New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola. Unless you’d prefer Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts (a favorite with kids) or Wheat Berry Salad (a great, healthy alternative).

A sweet finish … Especially for the kids, S’mores are always a good idea! Stock up on graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows. You might like to add a few alternatives, maybe some Espresso Brownies, Lemon-Lime Bars or Carrot Cupcakes.

Enjoy the long 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

Kick Off the Summer with a Cookout & Grilled Balsamic Vegetables

flag_01For many, Memorial Day is the de facto start of summer. It doesn’t matter that school is still in session, the black flies are still buzzing and summer solstice is still a few weeks away. From sea to shining sea, Memorial Day will be celebrated with that all-American, summer tradition: the cookout.

Guest or host, before that first burger is flipped, there are a few things to consider …

What to wear? A cookout more or less screams casual which by definition is undefinable. You know that your posh friend, the one who always looks like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue, will wear a lovely, new sundress. Meanwhile, your cousin will arrive in raggedy shorts and his favorite Grateful Dead t-shirt. Thank goodness, he’s charming. As you stand in front of the closet, don’t forget that it’s a party. It’s okay to be festive and even take it up a notch or two.

What to bring? It’s always best to ask what you can bring before showing up with a big bowl of potato salad. Yes, we know your spuds are praised and adored in six counties but that doesn’t mean they’ll be welcome. No matter how delicious, that potato salad is hardly the perfect side dish for the authentic Korean barbeque that your host has painstakingly prepared.

What’s on the menu? Foodies ask about the menu because they love to talk about food. Picky eaters ask because they’re worried. They are afraid that the food will be weird or too spicy or too who-knows-what. If you’re fussy about food, a cookout is a great opportunity to try something new or different. Embrace the experience and enjoy the adventure!

Allergies are another story. Tell your host about your allergy so he or she can steer you away from the pasta salad with the pine nuts or make your burger without cheese. Nothing puts a damper on a party faster than a trip to the emergency room for anaphylactic shock.

And hosts? Are you a nervous wreck juggling vegetarians and carnivores, allergies and picky eaters? Just remember, you will never please all of the people all of the time. Put together a nice variety of delicious dishes, serve them buffet style and relax. Let everyone help themselves to what they like and pass on what they don’t. Who knows, that fussy friend might just find a new favorite.

Can I bring a friend? It never hurts to ask because more often than not, the answer will be yes. That said; your three kids with spouses plus the eleven grandchildren and your sister and brother-in-law from Cincinnati might be a few too many plus-ones. What about my dog? Again, it doesn’t hurt to ask but be prepared to make a quick exit if Fido even hints at misbehaving. In case you are wondering, pooping on the lawn, chasing the cat, tipping over the grill and stealing a steak, all definitely qualify as misbehaving.

What to do about the neighbors? Ah, do we invite them or not? Living next door, they’ll be hard pressed not to notice the mob of people milling around your backyard. Especially if the music is blaring and smoke is billowing. While you are not necessarily obligated to invite the neighbors, if it’s a big bash, it’s probably a good idea. After all, they are less likely to call the police about the noise if they help make it.

Have a great cookout and bon appétit!

Grilled Balsamic Vegetables 
Beautiful, fresh vegetables, grilled to perfection, will make a great addition to your cookout. Enjoy!

A selection of your favorite vegetables – try any of the following:

grilling_asparagus_02Asparagus, trimmed
Green beans, trimmed
Red and yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut in wedges
Thin carrots, trimmed, peeled and blanched
Small eggplants, sliced in about 1/2-inch thick rounds
Fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut in wedges
Large mushroom caps, trimmed
Red onion, sliced in about 1/2-inch thick rounds
Red skin potato, sliced in about 1/2-inch thick rounds
Radicchio, cut in wedges
Scallions, trimmed
Summer squash, sliced on the diagonal about 1/2-inch thick
Sweet potato, sliced in about 1/2-inch thick rounds
Cherry, grape and/or pear tomatoes
Zucchinis, sliced on the diagonal about 1/2-inch thick

Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Reduced Balsamic Vinegar (recipe follows)

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high.

Place the vegetables in a large bowl or roasting pan, drizzle with just enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Working in batches if necessary, place vegetables, on the grill and cook until tender-crisp and nicely caramelized, 1-3 minutes per side. You may want to use a grill basket for the tomatoes.

Remove the vegetables from grill and artfully arrange on a large platter, drizzle with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar and serve. If making ahead, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the balsamic vinegar in a heavy saucepan, whisk in the honey and add the bay leaf and thyme. Bring the vinegar to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vinegar is syrupy and has reduced to 2/3-3/4 cup.

Discard the bay leaf and thyme and pour the reduced vinegar through a fine mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Cool the vinegar, add the mustard and extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

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One Year Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Two Years Ago – Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
Three Years Ago – Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Four Years Ago – Feta Walnut Spread
Five Years Ago – Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your plans for the Memorial Day Weekend? 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

Chillin’ & Grillin’ Memorial Day Weekend Special

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sunny or even partly sunny weekend. Memorial Day Weekend is always busy with the cottage and beach clean-ups and visits with family and friends. After a busy day with spring cleaning, launching boats and planting geraniums, everyone will be ready for a relaxing cookout. Let’s hope the weather cooperates!

Here are a few ideas:

To Start:  Quench everyone’s thirst with a refreshing Shandy. A European favorite with lots of variations it’s a great way to start a picnic or cookout.

After a busy day appetites will be hearty. Let your guest nibble on a big platter of fresh veggies with Tapenade and/or White Bean Dip. Meanwhile, put the grill to work with some Grilled Antipasto.

The Main Event:
Keep it simple and delicious. Grilled Chicken with Shallots & New Potatoes is always a good choice for a crowd. Who doesn’t like chicken? Then again, maybe you’re in the mood for beef. The New Potatoes will pair beautifully with a couple of Grilled Strip SteaksThe Gorgonzola Sauce  is a delicious addition. Add a beautiful Garden Salad and dinner is done.

Sweet Finale: Watch me make Rhubarb Crisp on Cook’s Corner – WMUR/Channel 9 – NH’s ABC affiliate 

My rhubarb plant is big and bright and ready for harvest. What could be better than Rhubarb Crisp for dessert. If you have a bunch of kids at the party, add a pan of Triple Threat Brownies.

Have a fun and festive feast! Bon appétit!

.

Shandy
Serve 4

8 ounces cold limeade or lemonade
8 ounces cold ginger ale
16 ounces cold ale
Lemon and lime slices

Put the lime- or lemonade, ginger ale, ale and a few lemon and lime slices in a large pitcher. Stir to combine. Serve the shandies over ice with a slice of lemon or lime.

Ginger and Lime Fizz
Serve 2
8 ounces cold limeade
8 ounces cold ginger ale
Lemon and lime slices

Fill glasses with ice, add the lime- or lemonade and top with ginger ale. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime.

How will you celebrate Memorial Day Weekend? Growing webs between your toes? How are you staying happy and sane during all this rainy weather? 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! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

A Warm Welcome Back to the Summer People & Wheat Berry Salad

The snow birds began drifting back a week or two ago. The post office and supermarket parking lots are already a little busier. Of course it’s nothing like the summer when you have to drive to the next county just to find a parking spot. The summer people won’t be here for another month or more. However, a good number of them will show up for the long Memorial Day Weekend.

I love that name, summer people. It sounds exotic but in a familiar, New England kind of way. Like Jay Gatsby and Daisy and the green light at the end of the dock. Yes, I know their story takes place on Long Island but it could just as well have happened in New Hampshire or Maine or on Cape Cod.

In another life, I was a summer person. It was nowhere near as glamorous as an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Then again, it began several decades and a great depression after the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties. That and I come from pretty ordinary stock. No multimillions. No champagne for breakfast. No cheating at golf. We didn’t spend the summer in a palatial mansion with manicured lawns and gardens but in a simple brown box in the woods.

While a part of me will probably always be a summer person, I can no longer claim the title. Almost eight years ago I came to my senses and moved my whole kit and caboodle to New Hampshire. Except for the black flies I pretty much like everything about living in New Hampshire. With summer just around the corner there is a lot to love.

Memorial Day signals the end of frost danger and reassures us that summer, while slow in coming, will be here eventually. It’s a good time to plant the geraniums, tomatoes and basil. If you haven’t taken down your dry-as-dust Christmas wreath, it’s high time you did. You can put the flag up while you are out there. It’s also a good time to grab the grill from the back of the garage, dust it off and begin to enjoy a little outdoor cooking.

I love the hustle and bustle of Memorial Day Weekend. When I was a kid, a few of the local, year round residents complained about the summer people. As soon as we began to trickle in for the holiday weekend, they’d start to harrumph and grumble. Some were none too subtle about it and made noisy, pointed complaints as they impatiently waited in line at the supermarket or gas station.

I guess I will always be a summer person at heart. Although I sometimes think it’s fun to refer to them as flatlanders, I’m happy to see the summer people arrive. My neighborhood is pretty quiet throughout the winter and mud season. It’s wonderful to see it perk up over the Memorial Day Weekend. My summer neighbors arrive to sweep out their cottages, chase squirrels out the attic and swat black flies. They’ll get out their kayaks, sail- and motorboats. Some will fish. A few will take a plunge into the still-icy cold lake. In the evening, burgers will hit the grill and their smoky scent will mingle with the perfume of blooming lilacs. The air will be filled with laughter and at least a shout or two of joy.

By Monday afternoon the summer people will be gone again. The neighborhood will return to its sleepy off-season self. But not to worry, they’ll be back. They always return in plenty of time for the boat parade, cookouts and fireworks on the 4th of July.

Have a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Bon appétit!

Wheat Berry Salad 
Wheat berries have a chewy texture and nutty taste. They are good for you and great in a summer salad. A terrific additional to your Memorial Day Weekend cookouts. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6

1 cup wheat berries*
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lime
6 radishes, cut in julienne (matchsticks)
4 carrots, cut in julienne (matchsticks)
1/2 – 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries

Put the wheat berries in a saucepan with 3 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until tender.

While the wheat berries are cooking, put the radishes, carrots, pepper, scallions and half the herbs in a bowl. Toss to combine. Drizzle and toss with enough Citrus Vinaigrette to lightly coat and transfer to the refrigerator.

When the wheat berries are cooked, drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Add the orange and lime zest, the remaining herbs, dried cranberries and enough Citrus Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Toss to combine and cool to room temperature. When the wheat berries have cooled, add the vegetables, toss to combine and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off and serve.

The salad can be prepared up to one day in advance.

* If you don’t have time, can’t find wheat berries or they’re just too chewy for you, substitute quinoa or Israeli couscous. Quinoa and couscous cook up in about 10-15 minutes and kids love them both.

Citrus Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 clove garlic
1/2-inch slice of a medium red onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Put the juices, vinegar, honey, cinnamon, garlic and onion in a blender or small food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste and process until smooth. Add the olive oil to taste and process until combined and emulsified. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before using to let the flavors combine.

Cover and store leftover vinaigrette in the refrigerator. Try it on your next green or garden salad.

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One Year Ago – Feta & Walnut Spread
Two Years Ago – Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola Bruschetta

How will you spend Memorial Day 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 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, 2011