About this time of year — right after the 4th of July, in fact — the typical grill faves at our house seem to fade off into the proverbial sunset. They’re not nearly so exciting as they were when we dusted off the patio in May and had the first cheeseburger with grilled sweet potato wedges and Sriracha Mayo dip. Or even when the early sweet corn got overly buttered and salted just a week or two ago and I thanked God my dentist had only two weeks before — and for the third time (sheesh) — fixed the snaggletooth chip in my right front tooth. (Just you wait for the Olathe corn coming up next month! I’m ready.) The sides, particularly, feel a bit lackluster. Another ho-hum pasta salad or middle-of-the-road caprese? More lemony green beans?! “What’s for dinner?” begins again, especially as the sun seems to just hang there up in the sky something like forever and it’s hot as ________. Are we bored that easily? It seems we may be. A bit of an embarrassment, isn’t it?Jump to Recipe Continue reading
SUMMER WEEKNIGHT MEAL PLANNING IS DONE. MAKE THESE 20 FUN RECIPES 3X EACH. Print them, along with a shopping list, place in a 3-ring binder or save them to a word file so you know just where they are for the next couple of months. Then make them again…and again!
Tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner on any given night in June, July, or August? The summer struggle is real even if you sometimes take the time to write down the week’s menu and make a grocery list. Cooking at home for yourself, friends, or a family is a big commitment, but it’s also a wonderful thing to do to focus on health and togetherness; improve the use of your time; and rein in that food budget. Here’s a post highlighting 20 fun, MORE TIME AT THE TABLE lighter/easier recipes you can make over and over again — or with variations. I had an awful time choosing between so many yummy dinners and had to leave out things like Shrimp Ratatouille and BBQ Chicken Grilled Veggie Stack — next time, right? You can be sure your planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will become simpler/faster as you become better acquainted with each meal. Just click on RECIPE HERE to take you to the post, then scroll down to the recipe (there is sometimes a “jump to recipe” button) and print. Do throw in a COOK’S OFF! night every now and then so you can order pizza, go out, or let someone else make eggs and toast when you’re tired. If you like, make a big batch soup or extra chicken breasts once a week you can then also use for lunch. After the recipes, I’ve included some seasonal desserts, meal-planning basic information, cooking with kids ideas, and a few great links to get you going. So choose your favorites, make that grocery list (keep it on your phone from month to month?), and then it’s time to get busy with happy summer cooking!Continue reading
While friends and relatives in lower and warmer climes harvest strawberries, brag about their huge beds of towering annuals, and swill a cold one on the patio, I’m still making big vats of soup we’re snarfing down watching “Designated Survivor” episodes snuggled up under afghans.Continue reading
Dave’s the rib guy. I eat them. Of course I do. But they aren’t the passion for me they are for him. You know these people. They all swear by the best local ribs places and even run by, bringing home a rack or two for take-out at lots of bucks a pop. Continue reading
While the old deck disappears and the new one is added, our summer dinner spot is gone. This seems to be a theme in our lives lately. (Change is in the air.) Outdoor tables and chairs are stored in the garage; patio candles sit awkwardly in a living room corner. Cushions and pillows are propped up next to the piano or rest at odd angles under sofa tables in the family room. We have cabin fever this year in the summer because from May – September, we do not eat indoors unless there’s a horrific storm or we’re in a restaurant. Our life, from 5:00 on — when sun is on the western side of our house — is outdoors. But not, sadly, for two weeks. Continue reading
Last December, these good cooking friends came to take a short Italian class with me and liked it so well (ah, gee) they returned en masse to redeem the class gift certificate one gave to the rest for a Christmas gift–on the condition that we attempt a grilling class. Onward, upward. “Sure,” I said. I also said, “I’m not a big outdoor griller. I grill inside. A lot. I have at least 3 stovetop grills. Dave, however, grills outside. I eat.” (Why should I learn to grill outdoors?!) But I figured between Dave and I, we could come up with a full grill menu everyone would lust after. Or, rather, I’d come up with the menu, and Dave would light and “man” the behemoth gas grill we bought to try and keep up with all his grilling love.
Often, on the blog, you see Dave thus:
And while, to you, it might appear his typical pose, he actually works very hard at his daily job, practices trombone as much as possible, takes excellent care of me, and then, in good weather, looks like this at home:
Did I say he cleans the kitchen quite a bit? All right, he walks on water.
If you’re looking for an entire meal on the grill for Memorial Day or any other day, this one just might be it. It’ll feed 6-8 people generously and could provide a few leftovers at the end of the day. First are a long slew of happy pictures, beginning with an overview of the menu; the recipes follow. At the very end is a link to click so that you can view the recipes in a printable form. ENJOY YOUR GRILL!
(Basic grilling technique link here.)
Grilled Caesar Salad (Chardonnay)
Grilled Lemon Salmon and Tinfoil-Packet Vegetables with Avocado Mayonnaise (Oregon Pinot Noir or Chardonnay)
Grilled Pineapple with Ice Cream and Maple Syrup (Sparkling Rosé)
INA FRIDAYS –First Friday of every month. Come cook some Ina with us this weekend. Scroll down to join the group. ♥♥♥ Upcoming: Desserts: July 4. Check out Ina Fridays on Pinterest.
As a cook and a lover of my friends and family, one of my frequent questions to pose is:
What’s your favorite meal?
People will often need a moment because we have so very many things we love. I myself can unequivocally answer,
This even though I often live on eggs, don’t particularly want to live without asparagus, and am rarely more pleased than when there’s beef stew for dinner. I like great individual artisan pizza, take-out or delivery pizza, homemade pizza (my son makes the best), and probably only draw the line at frozen pizza — though I’ll eat Lou Malnati’s anytime, good Chicago girl that I am. I love pizza so much that I’m not picky. (Ok, I don’t do Chucky Cheese.) But I’m amazed how many times Americans will answer, “Hamburgers” when it comes to their favorite food. They include fries more than half the time, I’d wager. (Click HERE for a list of Top 50 American Foods.) And while they love a great or famous burger from a bar, I think they’re even happier with a summertime grilled-at-home version or even a drive-in dive sandwich. (If I jump in the car, I can be at Cy’s in two minutes with a green line down at the corner.) Continue reading
This post celebrates 5 complete years of blogging on MORE TIME AT THE TABLE. Thanks for your loving kindnesses. Here’s to the next five years! Book almost here. I’m reading the proof copy now. So exciting!!
(above: iphone photo by sean anthony morgan)
Ok, now on to the pasta dinner on the grill…
For a few years, I’ve loved making summer pastas mostly on the grill. No big heavy sauce on the stove for hours like wintertime, just a few choice lovelies grilled to perfection and stirred into hot pasta (scroll down for pasta info) with some fresh herbs and maybe a little cheese. If you’ve a burner on the side of your grill, you can do the pasta outside as well and save your kitchen and you from the damp heat. If it’s not too warm, you can use your stove, which may be quicker.
My grilled eggplant and sausage pasta made on the grill is one of the favorites on our deck and also on the blog. It might soon be one of your summer go-tos as well.
Every summer, I get about half-way through and want…chili. Pot Roast. Lamb shanks. I’m a bit perverse, I’m fond of saying. I can’t wait for the first grilled chicken and tomato salads. I’m nuts about burgers on the patio in May with zin. But there comes a day when salad looks bleh (stick out tongue) and I don’t even much care about that long-awaited burger. I want something real. I want pasta. And I don’t want it in a restaurant.
So last year, in January (way ahead), I experimented with a pasta dish that included grilled vegetables and sausage, but I still made a cooked sauce in a pot. A lot of folks have been interested in that post, so here’s a continuation…
I had the idea then to create a dish totally done on the grill--much fresher– and I’ve now tried it. Even the pasta is cooked on the side burner, if you have one. (If not, buy fresh pasta to cook indoors; it cooks much faster.) I’ll amend that; Dave mostly tried it. I designed, orchestrated, cheer leaded, made fresh cheese, and ate it up. The only true heated cooking I did was to saute some garlic in the microwave and warm the milk to make cheese! (5 minutes) Do you have to make cheese? Of course not. Buy ricotta–fresh if you can get it. But I’d love it you made cheese.
I lately have been encouraging cooks to just try making an easy, quick fresh cheese. There isn’t much simpler to do and the brief instructions are below. I’ll also point out that if you need a lot of ricotta, this is the way to go; you’ll save a bunch of cash. To purists, this isn’t true ricotta, which is made with all milk; here I add some yogurt. My idea actually is a riff (a mistake I made and liked) from a recipe created by dessert guru and Parisian blogger David Lebovitz. See the original here. (See my first attempts and info on how to make a firmer cheese here.)
Imagine pasta in the summer and no hot kitchen? Try this:
grilled eggplant and sausage pasta made on the grill
directions: (ingredients below)
1. On the grill’s side burner (or on stove indoors): bring to a boil a kettle of salted water with a couple of springs of fresh basil and several grinds of black pepper. This takes a while outside, so start here. When it boils, add 1# whole wheat linguine. I like Whole Foods 365 brand; it’s luscious. Cook until al dente — where your teeth are stopped just gently as you bite into it. (Read package directions.)
2. Heat oiled grill to medium heat and add 2 sliced unpeeled Japanese eggplant*, 2 sliced medium zucchini, and 2 large onions sliced. Grill, watching closely, until nicely browned grill marks appear on one side and turn. Continue grilling until vegetables are almost tender. Remove to a large pasta bowl or pot. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and toss.
3. Grill 4 Italian sausages (buy locally made if you can), turning once or twice, until thoroughly cooked–about 6 minutes on each side. Remove from grill, let rest a couple of minutes, and slice into rounds about 1/3″ thick. (Juices should run clear.) Add to the pasta bowl with the vegetables and toss.
4. Meantime, microwave two minced cloves of garlic with a little olive oil in microwave-safe container on high about 30 seconds. (I use a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Stir into the meat and vegetable mixture.
5. When pasta is done, drain well, and add to the meat and vegetables. Add 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half. Toss with 2-3 T extra-virgin olive oil. (Cont’. below)
If you’d like to make your own cheese, here’s how:
|In 2 qt saucepan, heat 2 c whole milk, 1 c plain yogurt, 1 t salt, 2t vinegar for a few minutes. When curds form, pour the mixture through a colander or sieve lined with 2 layers of cheese cloth.|
|Let drain a few minutes.|
|Et voila…cheese for your pasta|
6. Stir in 2 cups homemade or store-bought ricotta and 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil. Sprinkle with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper. a pinch of crushed red pepper and stir well. Taste and re-season. Serve hot or at room temperature with grated Parmesan cheese, if you like.
- 1# whole wheat pasta (I like 365 Whole Foods brand)
- sprig of basil for the pasta water, plus 1/4 cup shredded to finish dish
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 Japanese eggplant, unpeeled, and sliced (or 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ x 2″ pieces)
- 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/4″-1/2″ thick
- 2 peeled onions, sliced 1/2″ thick
- Canola oil to oil grill
- 4 Italian sausages
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided (a bit to cook garlic; the rest to toss with pasta toward end)
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 2 cups fresh ricotta, homemade or store-bought
- crushed red pepper
- Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Summers in Colorado are hot days and cool (sometimes cold) nights. Wild lightning storms across huge skies. Stacks of summer reading take me to Italy and beyond.
|I adored this.|
Testing recipes for the soup cookbook keep me in the kitchen mornings before it’s too hot.
|Grinding spices for the Red Lentil (vegetarian) I’m working on. How do you spice your Red Lentil soup?|
Neighbors pop by for a drink on the porch or get together to watch a movie in a cool basement. Friends come for supper to try the soups on the back deck. So far, I like the Corned Beef-Potato with Irish Cheddar best. But I’m far from done and even that one needs working on.
|Last night off the back deck after the rain we both love and fear due to mudslides.|
|Giving up on corner grass…planting ajuga and a bit of sod.|
|Tuck’s fave pose here.|
|You’re where I want to be, Mom.|
|Leaving the robin’s nest on front porch light. Too sweet.|
|Close-up: She used our Russian sage. A work of art by an animal.|
|Temporary herb garden outside the front door.|
|Our columbine in Colorado–chooses its own spot. Illegal to pick.|
|Our front yard here in the Springs.|
|On the front walkway—wild yarrow and milk weed I’ve left. I usually call this the “Primrose Path.” But I’ve yet to plant primrose this year.|
|Bees and Russian Sage with my one pot of annuals that must be watered daily or twice-daily.|
Sing a new song,