It’s Summer! Weekend Special

It’s time for some summer fun. Swimming, boating, biking, tennis or golf, name your sport and have a great time. Just be sure to end the day with a delicious cookout with family and friends.

Not sure what to throw on that grill? Let the southwest inspire you!

Start the evening with a craft beer, chips and a great salsa. May I suggest my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa?

On to dinner, you can’t go wrong with a burger. I think that everyone will enjoy my Southwest Turkey Burgers. Complete your meal with a spoonful of Jicama Slaw and Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad.

For dessert, the first local strawberries are here! How about Panna Cotta with Strawberries or Strawberries with Yogurt Cream?

Happy summer – 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. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

School’s Out! & Southwest Turkey Burgers

I don’t know about you but every June when the weather turns warm, I can’t get Alice Cooper out of my head. He follows me around the lake on my morning walks. I hear him when I’m emptying the dishwasher or doing laundry. He’s might even turn up on the radio. In case you don’t remember, the aptly timed School’s Out hit the airwaves in June of 1972 and played incessantly. True or not, School’s Out seemed to be playing every time I got into the car with my friend Martha. Her mother, or maybe it was her father, had a sporty little Mercury Cougar and Martha loved to drive it.

All over the country, schools are closing for the summer. Some this week, a few, like our very own Kearsarge Regional, have already said good bye to pencils, books and teachers’ dirty looks. So let the summer celebrations begin!

By the way, if school vacation isn’t enough for you or doesn’t apply, the summer solstice is tomorrow. It is a fabulous excuse to celebrate. Steeped in folklore and superstition, the summer solstice brings out the best of our imaginations. From Stonehenge to the Scandinavian coast, we can pause and wonder at ancient customs and rites. With lots of extra hours of sunlight, there is certainly plenty of time to ponder. Whatever you do, please, don’t forget to do your sun dance. The last thing we want is rain or clouds on the longest day.

Whether you are celebrating the end of school, the longest day or both, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Take a road trip. You don’t need to go far or anywhere in particular. Open the car windows, roll down the top or open the sunroof, turn up the radio and imagine you’re sixteen again.

Visit the beach. Bring the dog and a tennis ball or find a stick and let her romp. Do it quickly. Once they officially open, most beaches do not allow dogs. Rebel that I am; I figure that as long as there is no lifeguard, the dogs can play. (But pu-leeze, lifeguard or no, pick up after your dog.)

Or leave the dog at home and go gallery hopping. Ramble through some of New England’s prettiest little towns and look for fine art and exquisite crafts and antiques. Whether you find an irresistible treasure or not, it will be a beautiful journey.

Find some live music. With warm weather, there are lots of possibilities, especially if you prefer your tunes outdoors. When in doubt, check out the nearest farmer’s market. We New Englanders seem like a little bluegrass or classic rock with their broccoli and carrots.

At the end of the day, bring the music and mesclun back home. For those of you who might be wondering, please note, that’s mesclun – a mix of assorted baby salad greens – and not mescaline, the hallucinogen found in peyote cacti.

End your celebrations with a long and lazy evening. It’s may not be the land of the midnight sun but the sun won’t set until just after 8:30. You will have plenty of time for a cookout, some singing and dancing. Light a lantern and a few candles and you can make merry until dawn.

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Turkey Burgers with Avocado and Southwest Aioli
Perfect on a warm summer evening – a taste of the sunny southwest hot off the grill. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Southwest Aioli (recipe follows)
2 – 2 1/2 pounds ground turkey
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 4 ounces thinly sliced cheddar cheese (optional)
1-2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1-2 tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
About 1/4 cup finely chopped pickled onion or onion
8 burger buns

Make the Southwest Aioli, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you are going to serve the burgers with pickled onion, pickle the onion.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot.

Divide the turkey into 8 pieces and gently pat into patties. Don’t overwork the meat or your burgers will be tough. Brush both sides of the burgers with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the turkey burgers on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip, add a slice of cheddar if you like, and continue grilling until cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

Place the buns on the grill, turning once, and toast for about 30 seconds.

Pop each turkey burger onto a bun and top with avocado, tomato and onion, add a dollop of Southwest Aioli and serve.

Southwest Aioli
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup drained and roughly chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons or to taste pureed chipotle in adobo*
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2-1 lime
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt to taste
About 3/4 cup or to taste mayonnaise

Put the sundried tomatoes, garlic, chipotle, mustard, lime juice and vinegar in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and process until well combined. Add the mayonnaise and process until smooth.

Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors. Cover and store leftover aioli in the refrigerator.

* Toss a can of chipotle peppers along with the adobo in a small food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a clean glass jar, store in the refrigerator and use as needed.

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One Year Ago – Cherry Cobbler
Two Years Ago – Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction
Three Years Ago – Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream
Four Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Five Years Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Six Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Seven Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Eight Years Ago – Asian Slaw

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

What about you? How will you celebrate the first days of summer vacation and the longest day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Happy Father’s Day Weekend Special

Okay Daddy-o, it’s time for a little celebration. We’ll be fêting my dad with a little lunch on Sunday. What about you? Most dads will take casual over fancy any day. Casual doesn’t mean ordinary. Make your celebration special with a delicious cookout.

I’m still a bit up in the air when comes to my menu. I’m debating between stocking up on some artisanal sausages. What could be easier? Or throwing some burgers on the grill. Still pretty darned easy! With goat cheese and sundried tomato aioli, my Not Your Ordinary Burger is simply spectacular. My sister is bringing a salad. However, you might like to try my Insalata Caprese . The first tomatoes are in at our local farm stand! Dad might also like a spoonful of Grilled Potato Salad.

For dessert, I’m leaning toward Strawberry Tort.

However, if you’re thinking of dinner rather than lunch, you’ll still want to start with an appetizer or two. How about Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus and Rosemary Cashews?

Next, you’ll want to try my Insalata Caprese.

For the main course, your dad will love my Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze. Throw a few asparagus spears and red potatoes on the grill and you’ve got dinner!

Dessert … you still can’t go wrong with Strawberry Tort.

Happy Father’s Day! 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. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Let Dad Have His Day & Grilled Steak with Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze

Our poor dads, like the famous comic, they get no respect. Think back just a few short weeks to all the hoopla and folderol over Mother’s Day. Did you know that mom is almost fifty percent more likely to receive a card on her day than dad on his. As for gifts, the odds are even worse. Sorry buddy.

Maybe we should blame it on the retailers. After all, from flowers and chocolates to clothing and jewelry, Mother’s Day gets all the hype and even better deals. If they’re lucky, Dad’s Day may receive some vague recognition. The craft beers give a little shout out to dads but that’s about it.

It’s not that we don’t love you but, at least for daughters, moms are so much easier when it comes to buying gifts. I always figured if I thought a sweater was fabulous that my mom would agree. The same goes for a new handbag, perfume or earrings. But … huge, exasperated sigh … that’s hardly the case with Dad.

To make matters worse, the gift guides aren’t exactly fountains of wisdom. Shouldn’t someone tell the gift gurus that there aren’t a whole lot of men pining for a world’s best dad mug? And there’s hardly a line around the block waiting for bourbon-flavored marshmallows or teeny, tiny leather notebooks. But, hey what about the latest and greatest (?) – a grill so portable it fits in a briefcase. At home and on the road, don’t all dads live to grill? Unfortunately, I seriously doubt you’ll find grills on the list of FAA approved carry-ons.

What to do?

Forget some silly gift; celebrate Father’s Day with an apology. Apologize for keeping him awake half the night for the first two years of your life. For throwing up every time you were in the car for more than twenty minutes. For growing out of your sneakers before you even made it home from the shoe store. For that time he had to go down to the police station. For getting a divorce before the caterer had even sent her final invoice. For forgetting to pay back the down payment on your first house. For forgetting his birthday for the last fifteen years. For … for … for …

Next, give him a heartfelt thank you. Thank him for logging miles and miles around the living room when you had colic. For boosting you on his shoulders so you could see the parade. For teaching you to ride a bike, swim, sail, ski and/or drive. For helping you with your college tuition. For giving you an appreciation for the finer things in life … like a perfectly grilled burger or steak, fried clams with the bellies and a martini with olives. For brainwashing you to stay on budget and never, ever pay a penny in interest to the credit card companies. For … for … a whole lot more.

And finally, it’s highly likely that the one thing your dad wants more than anything is to spend time with you. So get out your golf clubs or tennis racket, pull on your hiking boots or dust off your bicycle and enjoy an afternoon together. Share your favorite museum with him or ask him to bring you to his favorite antique car show. Take in a movie or a concert. Buy a great steak and a nice bottle of wine or whiskey and fire up the grill. Listen to his jokes and his stories, no matter how long or how many times you’ve heard them before. You know what your dad likes to do. Make him happy; do it with him.

Happy Father’s Day and bon appétit!

Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze
This Father’s Day (or any day for that matter), dress up dad’s favorite dinner with a tasty glaze and a trio of aromatic veggies. (While you’re add it, add a few Grilled Red Potatoes.) Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil
3- 3 1/2 pounds New York strip steaks, cut about 1 1/2-2 inches thick
1 pound fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
8-12 cloves garlic, trimmed and peeled
1 pound whole mushrooms, trimmed

Make the glaze: put the vinegar in small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil the over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard, brown sugar, garlic, shallot, rosemary and thyme and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer the vinegar to a bowl or jar, add the olive oil and whisk or shake until well combined. Make the glaze in advance or let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Whisk or shake again before using.

Spoon enough glaze onto both sides of each steak to lightly coat and let the beef sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be medium hot.

Put the mushrooms in a bowl, drizzle with enough glaze to lightly coat and toss to combine. Place the mushrooms cup-side up on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden with nice grill marks. Turn and continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Put the onions and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with enough glaze to lightly coat and toss to combine. Transfer the onions and garlic to a grill basket and, stirring a few times, grill until tender and caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side for rare and 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes.

To serve: slice the steaks and arrange on a platter or individual plates. Surround the steak with the vegetables and, if you like, drizzle with additional glaze.

Cover and store extra glaze in the refrigerator

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One Year Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Two Years Ago – Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs
Three Years Ago – Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Four Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Five Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Six Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

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

What about you? How will you celebrate Father’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Graduation Weekend Special

Well, finally and just in time for graduation, it promises to be a beautiful weekend. Gather your family and friends and celebrate with your favorite new graduate. If you don’t have any new graduates to celebrate, well, celebrate something else. Sunshine, a birthday or anniversary, more or less anything else will do.

Make your celebration special with a delicious cookout. Throw on a t-shirt and flip-flops, fire up the grill and enjoy a relaxed and tasty evening.

Sticking with tradition, you’ll need a batch of my Greek Stuffed Mushrooms or, if you prefer, Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms. Young and old will love my Pissaladière. Don’t forget to set out a dip, maybe two. My Chipotle Sweet Potato & White Bean Hummus and/or Feta & Walnut Spread are great choices.

With kids of all ages, from eight to eighty, you can’t go wrong with burgers. You can keep it plain and simple or take it up a notch with my Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa and/or my Not Your Ordinary Burger.

And add a few great salads … If you are thinking pasta and veggies, try my Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables or Orzo & Grilled Asparagus Salad. For a healthier solution, give my Wheat Berry Salad a try. (If you have a vegetarian or two coming, add some chickpeas to the Wheat Berry Salad.) For a colorful salad with lots of crunch, toss up a bowl of my Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette or Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad.

Top everything off with a great cake. No, not one of those giant supermarket cakes with the colorful but too sweet frosting. Instead, try my Strawberry Tort or Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes.

Congratulations to all the new graduates. 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. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What Now? What Next? & Strawberry Tort

It will be all pomp and circumstance at the local high school on Saturday. Bright-eyed teenagers will collect their sheepskins in front of beaming parents and grandparents. Many will continue their education in the fall; others will head straight to work. There will be plenty of sage words and glib platitudes but here are a few more…

Dreams are like an early morning mist. They float and surround you but there is little to grab and hold. Work is real and makes dreams come true. No one said it would always be easy; make a plan and persevere.

Don’t settle. Life is too short, too tough and too much fun to settle for dull and boring. It is much too short for cruel and meaningless.

Don’t wait for stuff to happen to you. Create your own next best thing. Achieve something; learn a new skill or take an old one to new heights. Perhaps you will write a sonnet, unscramble a piece of jumbled code or build a birdhouse. Go ahead – take a step, then another and make life happen.

Of course, accidents happen and luck can be hit or miss but the future is by far and away a product of the choices you make. Good, bad or indifferent, own your choices and move on to the next.

Don’t just pick your battles; pick the outcome. If you find yourself in the middle of an angry feud, you can choose to fume, forgive or forget. More often than not, being at peace is better than righteous indignation.

Life is better when you are happy. Happiness is not a deep secret or a profound mystery. You can find happiness by smiling more, laughing more and singing more. And don’t forget to dance.

Given a choice between an adventure and the same old-same old, choose adventure. No matter what happens, you will learn a whole lot along the way.

Don’t be an idiot. Open your mind to new people, possibilities and ideas.

Change is constant and all around us. If it wasn’t, you’d still be using a rotary phone. Heck, you’d know what a rotary phone was. Technology, fashion and opportunities change but love for family, for friends and a favorite place is constant. So embrace the latest smart phone but use it to call your grandmother on Sunday morning.

Keep kindness as a core value. Throughout your life, you will experiment and explore. You may investigate different beliefs or try new approaches to life. Through all those changes and evolutions, practice simple acts of kindness to connect to the people around you.

Hug your parents. Hug your grandparents. They won’t be here forever so appreciate them while you can.

Enjoy the ride and bon appétit!

Strawberry Tort
June is the month for graduations, weddings and strawberries. No, this tort can’t replace a five-tier wedding cake but celebrants will welcome it at almost any other festive feast. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/2 cup butter, plus more for the pan, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a deep dish pie plate.

Put the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Arrange the strawberries cut side down on top of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for at least 20 minutes, the tort can be served warm or at room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Two Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad
Three Years Ago – Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart
Four Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Five Years Ago – Blueberry Crumb Cake
Six Years Ago – Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce
SevenYears Ago – Strawberry Gelato
Eight Years Ago – Asparagus Soup

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

What about you? Do you have a favorite piece of advice for graduates? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Another Dreary Weekend Special

Good golly Miss Molly … will it never end. Yes, indeed it looks like another dreary weekend. Although it might not actually rain until Monday, partly cloudy and very cloudy are in the forecast. Forget May flowers, it’s June already. In some places, it is already summer.

Alright, if you can’t play in the sun, you might as well invite family and friends around for a delicious dinner. How about an evening inspired by the sunny Mediterranean?

Get out the retsina or ouzo and try your hand at my Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta or Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad. If you want to really impress, then whip up a batch of my Spanakopita Triangles.

Assuming no downpours, you’ll need the grill again for the main course. I hope that your friends and family enjoy my Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint as much as mine did the other night. If it’s raining or you don’t want to deal with the grill, try my Chicken with Onions & Olives or Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs. Serve any and all of the above with my Lemony Green Rice or Israeli Couscous. Complete your dinner with Grilled Ratatouille Stacks.

Save room for a sweet. I can’t help but go for strawberries this time of year. While we are still waiting for local berries, you can always make due with what’s in the market from California or New Jersey. Try my Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard or Panna Cotta with Strawberries.

Stay dry and have a great weekend! 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. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017