Ways to Show – I Love You & Grilled Carrots with Green Tahini Sauce

Love isn’t easy. Romantic love, familial love, dear friendships – they all take effort and time. Love of a spouse or a sibling, love of a parent, cousin or friend, it doesn’t matter. Things can get messy, and sometimes, even ugly. Yes, indeed, like it or not relationships are not effortless hugs and kisses, long chats and giggles. A good relationship takes work, sometimes a lot of work, sometimes one-sided work – but it can be absolutely, positively worth it.

Great as love is, it won’t mend all that’s wrong with the world. It won’t erase the niggling insecurities we all have. Love won’t miraculously give you or anyone else world class soccer skills. Love isn’t the key to winning a Pulitzer. Love can’t guarantee a better job or a raise. It can’t straighten hair or get rid of pimples. However, it can help everyone feel better, stronger and … well … loved.

Perhaps you’re not good with words or not particularly demonstrative. If you have trouble expressing your feelings …

… here are a few things you can SAY to show your love –

Did you eat?
What can I do for you?
Come sit; tell me what you’ve been up to.
What would you like to do today?
I love the new haircut.
Let me get that for you.
It’s supposed to rain today, don’t forget your umbrella.
Please, wear bright/florescent/reflective clothing when you go out on your walk.
Be safe.
You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You are amazing
Thank you.
I love you.

… and a few things you can DO to show your love –

Smile when they walk in the room.
Laugh at their jokes.
Ask their advice.
Cook them a special meal. Invite them to cook with you and share a favorite recipe.
Put your dishes in the dishwasher. Put their dishes in the dishwasher.
Get over it. Whatever pissed you off; it’s not worth it.
Call for no reason except to say hello.
Spend time with them.
Join them at their favorite game or activity.
Give a book you know they’ll love.
Give flowers.
Give a heartfelt hug.
Give your undivided attention.
Listen, really listen.

This summer, this year, this millennium, let the people you love know it.

Love is too good to keep it a secret. Bon appétit!

Grilled Carrots with Green Tahini Sauce
Tender, new carrots fresh from local farms are incredible when grilled. Perfect as an appetizer or side dish, serve them plain or with my Moroccan tahini inspired sauce. Enjoy them with people you love!
Serve 8

Green Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)
1 1/2 – 2 pounds carrots
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the Green Tahini Sauce. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Toss the carrots with enough olive oil to lightly coat and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the carrots on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. If using a gas grill, reduce the heat to low and turn the carrots. If using a charcoal grill, turn and move the carrots to the cool side of the grill. Grill for an additional 5 minutes or until tender.

Transfer the carrots to a serving platter or individual plates and serve warm or at room temperature with Green Tahini Sauce.

Green Tahini Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 scallions, chopped, white and light green parts separated from the dark green
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves

Put the garlic, white and light green scallion and spices in a small food processor, add the lime juice and zest and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine and finely chop.

Add the tahini, olive oil, herbs and remaining scallion and process until smooth. If necessary, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, and process until smooth and creamy. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors.

Serve at room temperature. Cover and store extra sauce in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil
Two Years Ago – Grilled Romaine Salad
Three Years Ago – Fresh Tomato Crostini
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Crostata
Five Years Ago – Orzo Salad with Lemony Pesto & Grilled Tomatoes
Six Years Ago – Watermelon & Cucumber Salsa
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Chicken Salad Provencal
Eight Years Ago – Lobster with Corn, Tomato & Arugula Salad
Nine Years Ago – Greek Green Beans
Ten Years Ago – Blueberry Pie
Eleven Years Ago – Grilled Lamb

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

What are you grilling this week? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

The Muggies & Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Carrots with Chickpea-Quinoa Salad

New Hampshire has a bad case of the muggies and they just won’t quit. I don’t know about you but it tends to make me more than a bit cranky. Forget that tired and too often used phrase. You know the one, “it’s not the heat – it’s the humidity.” Lies, all lies, it’s BOTH – the heat AND the humidity.

For those of us without central air conditioning, it’s also the noise. There is a constant drone from strategically placed window air conditioners as well as the whirl of big box fans. Together, they do their best to spread cool air throughout the house. It works pretty well but the noise is constant and deafening. Throughout the evening, I find myself hopping up to check the thermometer. Desperate to turn off the racket and open the windows, I anxiously wait for the tipping point when it is finally cooler outside than in.

Anyway, heat, humidity, rain … what to do about it?

  1. First of all, stay hydrated. Throughout the day, drink lots of water.
  2. Wear cool clothing. Think natural fibers, soft colors and loose, flowing styles. If nothing else, you’ll look bohemian chic.
  3. Go for a swim. The beach empties when it rains but for heaven sakes why? A swim out the raft and back will keep you cool. Do be careful and make sure there is no thunder before diving in.
  4. Alternatively, take a walk in the rain. Several times over the past week or so, I’ve been caught on my morning walk. While not exactly refreshing, it’s surprisingly pleasant. Again, stay home if you hear thunder.
  5. Think cool thoughts. Need some help? Imagine a typical January day in New Hampshire – that should work.

Then again, perhaps you’d like to take advantage of other people’s cool.

  1. Go to a movie. It’s summer, which means you can always find an animated kid’s movie, a frothy musical and at least one blockbuster. Want something a little more highbrow? A bunch of indie films are finally making it to New Hampshire. Take your pick.
  2. Park yourself in a café. Bring your laptop and a book and relax. Don’t forget to order something at least every hour or so. The café owner has bills to pay. Be generous when you tip your waiter, she has bills too.
  3. Visit a museum. Wander around and enjoy the art. Then, find a good place to sit and enjoy more art. Wander into the café, sit and treat yourself to something yummy.
  4. Stop in at a community or senior center. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a game of bridge, poker or mah jongg or meet a new friend. Just in case you don’t, bring along a magazine or book.
  5. Go to the library. Find a comfortable chair and read the day away.

Stay cool and bon appétit!

Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Carrots with Chickpea-Quinoa Salad
Salad for dinner is a good way to beat the heat and humidity. You can prep and refrigerate everything early in the day while it’s still relatively cool. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Chickpea-Quinoa Salad
Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups quinoa
About 3 cups (28-30 ounces canned) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoon chopped mint
2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Make the Tahini Sauce. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, add the chickpeas, and enough Tahini Sauce to lightly coat and toss to combine. Cool to room temperature, sprinkle with cilantro, mint and parsley and toss again.

Tahini Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup tahini
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tablespoons water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
Sea salt to taste

Put the tahini in a bowl, add the olive oil and lime juice and whisk to combine. A tablespoon at a time, add the water and whisk until smooth. The sauce should have a creamy consistency. Add the garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt and whisk and until well combined.

Use the sauce sparingly and refrigerate any leftovers.

Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Carrots
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
About 1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 1/2 – 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
Garnish: 1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped, thinly sliced scallions and fresh cilantro leaves

Put the spices in a small bowl, add the olive oil, lime juice and garlic and whisk to combine. Put the chicken in a bowl, add 2/3 of the marinade and turn to coat. Turning once or twice, marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator.

Put the carrots in a bowl, add the remaining marinade and toss to coat. Marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Arrange the chicken on the grill. Cook the chicken 3-5 minutes per side or until it registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove from the grill, let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes and slice.

Reduce the heat to medium and arrange the carrots on the grill. Cook the carrots for 3-5 minutes per side or until nicely caramelized and tender crisp.

To serve: transfer the Chickpea-Quinoa Salad to a large deep serving platter or spoon into individual bowls, top with chicken and carrots and drizzle with a little Tahini Sauce. Sprinkle with cucumber, scallion and cilantro leaves.

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One Year Ago – Szechuan Noodle Salad
Two Years Ago – Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus
Three Years Ago – Cucumber-Mint Agua Fresca
Four Years Ago – Double Corn & Cheddar Muffins
Five Years Ago – Blueberry Clafouti
Six Years Ago – Blackberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt
Seven Years Ago – Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato
EighYears Ago – Red Pepper Dip
Nine Years Ago – Grilled Chicken, Shallots & New Potatoes
Ten Years Ago – Barbecue Chicken

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

How do you keep cool in muggy weather? Tips welcome – feel free to share!

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

Traditions & Stories plus Roasted & Mashed Butternut Squash

THANKS_03It is the season of thanks and giving. The timing could not be more apropos. Smart people tell us that if you’re feeling blue or out of sorts, both giving and gratitude are wonderful cures. On the other hand, if life is good for you right now, embrace those feelings with gratitude and give back graciously.

I am a big believer in the power of small things. That’s why I’m grateful for kind words. Give one or receive one; it doesn’t matter. Let the kind words fly in all directions. They make the world an infinitely better place. Don’t be shy; blurt out that compliment to the stranger in the supermarket. After all, it is a fabulous haircut. Don’t just say hello to that friend you haven’t seen in weeks. Greet him with, “I’m so happy to see you.”

I also believe in the power of big things. While a cynic might brush them off as inconsequential, family traditions are big, powerful things. Thanksgiving, in particular, is filled with traditions. It doesn’t matter that many have changed a bit; some have grown and others have disappeared. Family traditions are the threads that bind us together across distance, time and generations.

From the first post-election debate in 1796 to the green bean casserole that debuted in the mid-fifties, Thanksgiving follows a familiar if sometimes uncomfortable routine. But make no mistake, even the most awkward moment can bring comfort. Once again, at some point during the feast, we will take a deep breath and resist the almost uncontrollable urge to strangle that knuckleheaded cousin. However, while his obstinacy may frustrate us, the inevitability of his knuckleheaded-ness also grounds us. In a way, I guess we love him in spite of his stubbornness and because of it.

The predictable menu we serve may not actually be the best we have to offer but continuity brings us peace. And so, even if tempted, I will not stir up Butternut Squash Risotto, grill burgers or simmer black beans for Thanksgiving dinner. Okay, I confess I’ll roast the squash instead of boil it like my mother did. Traditions bend with each new generation and blend with new additions to the family.

Along with the discussion and debate, the drama and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is filled with family stories. Throughout the day, we create them; relive them and share them. Few families have heroic tales to tell. Not many can reminisce about the year Uncle Pete missed the party because of a moon landing or cousin Wilt was busy at a record-breaking basketball game.

Our family stories may be rather ordinary, even mundane, but they are ours. We recount the time Mom didn’t realize the turkey was double wrapped and popped it in oven, cellophane and all. We remember Thanksgiving blizzards, even power outages, as well as the time our eighty-some year old aunt had two too many Manhattans. As for you and your family, perhaps you tell of the time the dog stole the turkey or your uncle nodded off and did a faceplant in the mashed potatoes.

While the events may be ordinary, the stories are not. Each story gives a glimpse into one or more of the unique characters that somehow came together and formed a family. These tales share love and loss, laughter and tears. Family stories remind us of the people and personalities who came before us. Part comedy, part tragedy, part legend, our family stories connect us to the past and give us strength and courage for the future. They are very powerful indeed.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with tradition, stories and love. Bon appétit!

Roasted & Mashed Butternut Squash
My mother always boiled, drained and mashed her squash with butter and a little brown Butternut_Squashsugar or maple syrup. I’ve ramped up the flavor by roasting it. Enjoy!
Serves 8

3-4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-2 pinches cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
About 1 cup cream or chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons butter plus more for the pan
About 2 ounces each Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
About 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Put the squash in a single layer on rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle with cayenne, salt and pepper, drizzle with enough equal parts vinegar and oil to lightly coat and toss to combine. Roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Add the onions and more oil and vinegar if necessary and toss to combine. Roast for 15 minutes more or until lightly browned and tender. Remove from the oven, add the herbs and toss to combine. Let cool for about 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Generously butter a large baking dish.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the vegetables to a food processor, add the cream, butter and cheeses and pulse to combine and puree. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more cream or broth. Transfer the squash to the prepared baking dish.

Can be prepared ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Bake the butternut squash uncovered at 350 degrees until piping hot. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.

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One Year Ago – Pumpkin-Ginger Mousse
Two Years Ago – Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad
Three Years Ago – Roasted Mushrooms, Leeks, Shallots & Pearl Onions
Four Years Ago – Turkey Noodle Soup with Spinach
Five Years Ago – Curried Thai Soup with Turkey, Vegetables & Noodles
Six Years Ago – Roast Turkey with Mom’s Stuffing & Giblet Gravy
Seven Years Ago – Penne Gratin with Leftover Turkey
Eight Years Ago – Leftover Turkey Stir-fry

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

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions and stories? Feel free to share.

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

First of May Cookout Special

daffodils_april_10_03_edited We say goodbye to April on Sunday and give three cheers for the merry month of May.
In spite of the surprise snowstorm on Tuesday, the first of May means that it really, finally is spring. Roll out the grill and enjoy the first cookout of the season.

Uh oh – spring or not, it looks like the first of May will be a washout. Not a problem … just move your cookout to Saturday. Hooray, hooray, the thirtieth of April doesn’t rhyme but you can still have a good time!

Start with something delicious to nibble. I’m very fond of my
Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp. Or you could try my Greek Stuffed Mushrooms.

Next, sit down to a salad. Since you are getting out the grill, why not try my Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado. On the other hand, my Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad is also very good.

What about the main course? How about chops? Lamb or pork, take your choice! I’m partial to my Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce but my dad is a big fan of my Grilled Mustard Pork Chops. Either way, serve the chops with a spoonful of my Quinoa Salad and a few slices of my Grilled Zucchini.

Top off your spring feast with something sweet and delicious. You can’t miss with my Flourless Chocolate Cake or my all-time spring favorite Lemon Tart.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you cooking 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

A Fading Autumn Weekend Special

fall_leaves_02If you haven’t done the New Hampshire foliage tour yet … well hurry up! The leaves are fading fast. Dropping too, so, those of us who live here have our work cut out for us. Grab a rake and get to it!

Once you’ve put the rake away, invite some of your favorite people over for a great dinner. Dinner comes together quickly and easily with the help of a few, great kitchen hacks. It also helps when someone brings an appetizer, someone else brings a salad and a third brings dessert! Perhaps saying YES to the question, “Can I bring something?” is the ultimate hack!

Whether you fix everything from soup to nuts or your friends pitch in, here are a few ideas:

First you’ll want a tasty appetizer. If the wind biting and the air cold, there is nothing like itty bitty soup shots. Butternut Squash Soup would be perfect. Or get some really good artisanal crackers and try my warm and oh so yummy Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts. Then again, my Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini are pretty darn good too.

Now, for a great main course. You’ve got to try my Chicken with Onions & Olives. If not this weekend, then sometime soon. Serve the chicken with Lemon Roasted Potatoes or Israeli Couscous and Roasted Cauliflower.

A nice alternative and staying with chicken, my Spicy Chicken Stew with Vegetables and Chick Peas is a great one pot supper. Well, almost one pot. You’ll want to serve it with rice or Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts.

Now for a little something sweet. Enjoy an espresso (decaf is okay), a cup of tea or snifter of cognac by the fire. Of course you’ll want something to nibble. Maybe my Pumpkin & Spice Cookies or Pumpkin Whoopee Pies. If you think you’d like something a bit more elegant, well, how about Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti?

Enjoy the 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!

Still Summer Weekend Special

Pleasant Lake cloudsIf you are holding onto summer with brute force and white knuckles, you can relax. The equinox and official start to fall will not be here for another couple of weeks. Last week’s heat wave proved it, it’s still summer. Even if clouds and showers hide the sun for a good bit of the weekend.

Anyway, it will be a good weekend for a movie or invite friends over to watch football. Or forget about football, hang out in the kitchen and make pickles.

When it comes to dinner, enjoy a bit of cozy, comfort food. Here are a few ideas:

To start, pick up some fresh eggplant in the farmers’ market and give my Baba Ganoush or Caponata a try. Add a bowl of Roasted Almonds and another of Spicy Olives.

roasted_tomato_soup_w_fresh_corn_01Moving on to the main course, who says you can’t have soup and sandwiches for dinner? You can’t beat my All Grown Up Grilled Cheese. Add a mug of my Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Corn. Yum!

And for dessert? Stick with the warm and cozy theme. The first local apples are in the market and everyone but everyone loves Apple Crisp. Or go with cool, creamy and chocolaty and give my Chocolate Panna Cotta a go.

Have a great weekend, stay dry and bon appétit!

What are you planning for the long holiday 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

A Toe Tapping Summer Weekend Special

What a beautiful day! Let’s hope it lasts through the weekend so we can continue to live the outdoor life. That’s what summer is all about … sun, sports and celebrations, at least on the weekends. So what’s up with you? Golf or tennis, sand castles and waterskiing, shopping at the farmers’ market and dancing at the bandstand?

We New Englanders have a long tradition of summer evenings at the bandstand. There are three within minutes of my house most summer weekends. If you’re tied up with other plans on Saturday, well, there’s always Friday and Sunday night. A picnic and some toe-tapping is a great way to spend a summer evening. That said, you’ll need a picnic.

To start you evening of delicious, toe-tapping fun, think tomato … or is it tomahto? I can’t think of a better way to start the evening than locally grown tomatoes. You’ll be in heaven with my Bruschetta with Fresh Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Pesto Oil . Next dish up some tasty Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables and top the salad with my Grilled Shrimp.

What’s your favorite portable dessert. I’m guessing brownies top your list. Looking for a bit of change, give my rich and oh so wonderful Cheesecake Brownies a try.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you planning 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, 2015