Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso Butter

Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso ButterThe Veggie Challenge
Vegetables can be polarizing…most people have at least one vegetable that they like or at the very least can tolerate. And, in my family, there are more vegetables that people dislike than like. The hard part is that we don’t all like the same vegetables and finding common ground when preparing meals for more than one person can be challenging.

For example, I have one son who loves potatoes of all kinds, won’t eat peas or corn, will only eat carrots raw, but is okay with broccoli. The other son likes potatoes, loves butternut squash, corn, and broccoli, but won’t touch much else. My daughter would live on artichokes if she could, hates potatoes of all kinds (unless it is a potato salad), tolerates broccoli, but will eat just about everything else.

Needless to say, we eat a lot of broccoli.

Now if you are cooking for more than one person on a regular basis, you will eventually learn people’s hard limits. (In my house that would be okra.) The danger is finding yourself in a veggie rut—making the same things over and over. And, no matter how good they taste, you get bored. See broccoli.

It is this boredom that prompted me to go in search of “The Different”. I have been challenging myself, and by default my family, to try new vegetables that I would not typically choose outside of a specific recipe. And also taking the go-to veggies I would normally use and prepare them in a different way.

Case in point, I love bok choy but I don’t usually eat it outside of a stir fry or Asian style dish. So, I went in search of a new way to prepare bok choy and I found this recipe for Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso Butter. It blew me away not just because it was tasty but because of the reaction from the rest of my family.

I grill a lot of vegetables but it never occurred to me to put bok choy on the grill. So, I had to give it a shot if only because it was just so outside of what I ever imagined of doing bok choy. It’s by no means revolutionary. People have been putting food over fire since the dawn of time but it still blew my mind. Maybe it was the miso?

I admit to being concerned about using butter on the grill as it can burn quickly or start a grease fire if the grill is too hot. But, the results were amazing! And, when the people gathered around your table give you that “Wow! This is really good” look, you know you have a keeper.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso Butter
Yields 4 servings

The original recipe on Food 52 uses both the bok choy stalks and greens. I decided to reserve the greens for another dish and go with the grilled stalks. Read more…

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Heirloom Tomato SaladFamily Heirloom
Tomatoes are kind of a thing with my family. Every summer my mother waits with baited breath for home grown tomatoes so that she can have her favorite tomato sandwich. My husband likes to eat them sliced thick with a pinch of salt. My grandmother was also a huge fan of summer tomatoes though her favorite way to serve them has become a family joke. We call it Gammy salad.

During the summer, when her tomatoes were super tasty, Gam would frequently serve her tomato salad at Sunday dinner. The “salad” consisted of sliced tomatoes and avocados artfully arranged on a platter with a large dollop of mayonnaise in the middle. That’s it. Sometimes she would get wild and sprinkle a little Italian dressing on top but for the most part, it was tomatoes and mayo.

Now I fully admit to being a food snob and maybe it was a generational thing. But, I have always thought that the tomato/mayo combination was just, well, weird or maybe it was just her age. People of her generation ate some things that we wouldn’t think of eating today…for a number of reasons. (Heart attack prevention would be one.) My grandfather liked butter on his ham sandwich which I guess isn’t too strange when you consider my great grandfather liked bacon grease sandwiches. (Yeah. Think about that for a minute.)

So, I always put the Gammy salad in the older folks like weird stuff category but I have to admit my favorite means of eating tomatoes isn’t that much of a jump from hers.

I, too, like to slice my tomatoes thick and arrange them on a plate. But, I opt for freshly-made blue cheese dressing instead of the mayonnaise. Nothing looks prettier on a plate than some thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes with a drizzle of tangy blue cheese dressing.

Making your own dressing is pretty easy. Though, I have to say the freshly made dressing we have in our cheese department is even easier…..

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home by Ina Garten Read more…

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Platter Salad

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Platter Salad Life On A Platter
If you are someone who likes to cook, chances are you have a relatively extensive collection of pieces with which to cook or serve your creations. Some of us, it could be said, have way more than they need. (Guilty). Within my culinary collection though there are those few pieces that are my workhorses—the things I reach for day in and day out. One of those pieces, for me, is a white rectangular platter I bought at Target for twenty bucks.

I use this platter for everything from grilled meats, to cheese platters, to sliced fruits, or dim sum. It is perfect. It is the perfect size, the perfect color, the perfect everything. If it ever breaks I don’t know what I will do.

Lately I have been using it for one of my favorite summertime dinner options, platter salads. Platter salads can be anything from sliced heirloom tomatoes to a family style cobb salad. Platter salad is one of my go to’s when it’s hot and I am feeling lazy.

Recently I came across this recipe in the NY Times that has since become part of my platter salad rotation. It is the perfect blend of all things summer: corn, tomatoes, and avocado. Plus, it has cumin in it and in my world everything is better with cumin.

I like to serve this salad with something grilled on top whether it’s chicken, skirt steak or even some shrimp (though it is just as good on its own). Whatever your preference, the leftovers will make a great lunch for the next day.

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Platter Salad
Read more…

Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Toasted Pecans

Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Toasted PecansThe Buzz
Have you ever had houseguests who just didn’t know when it was time to leave? We’ve been having that problem for a while now. For the past month we have been hosting a few hundred bees that decided to build their hive in the walls of our garage and now it is time for them to go.

I have always liked the idea of having my own bee hive for a number of reasons. Honey, obviously but also just to have my own personal army of pollinators. The reality would require more time than I am able to devote to it, which is why we have spent the past weeks figuring out the most harmless method to send the bees on their merry way.

If there is any good news (and when you have a swarm of bees there’s usually not a lot of good news) it is that our buzzy friends decided to make their home in an area that is relatively far away from our house and easily accessible via my veggie garden. That last part probably has something to do with their spot of choice. It is also the reason we tried to wait it out to see if they would just move on. They didn’t. It’s prime real estate. And, we all know the first rule of real estate; location, location, location.

After consulting with a local bee expert, and not wanting to harm the bees in anyway, we came up with a plan to get the bees out of the wall. And it worked. But then the bees just decided to build their hive under the eaves of the garage roof complete with honey comb. So we are left with no other option.

Today the saga will end with our bee expert coming to collect the colony and take it away to live with the other happy bees in her hives. Once they are gone, we will be able to open up our garage wall and see what they left behind. If the long line of ants are any indication we are looking at a pretty sticky situation.

It probably comes as no surprise that I’ve had honey on the brain lately. So, when I came across this recipe for Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Toasted Pecans, I knew I had to give it a try.

Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Toasted Pecans
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields about 1 1/4 quarts

The warm cinnamon flavor melds wonderfully the earthiness of the honey and pecans. An added bonus to this Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream is that honey lends itself to extra-creamy ice creams, which you’ll notice immediately when you taste this one.

This ice cream is delicious when topped with fresh, sliced peaches. Read more…

Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables

Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables Lighten Up
As a general rule, my husband and I try to enjoy our vacations to the fullest. This means that we don’t really worry too much about the calories when we are on our adventures. Eating the good stuff is all part of the fun, right?

Once we get back it’s a different story…time to pay the piper. In the last couple of months, we have had the chance to travel and have some great adventures and plenty of good food. Now that we are home, I have been preparing more and more veggies to go with our meals (and less of the starchy carb-type things) to get us all back on track. The easiest way I have found to do that is to throw a whole mess of veggies on the grill.

When it is as hot as it has been lately, I grill almost everything we eat. So, grilling some Grilled Mixed Vegetable along with it is no biggie. And, it helps use up whatever you have in your garden. Grilled peaches also make for a great dessert.

What I do with the veggies once they are grilled is entirely decided by my mood and energy level. Sometimes I just toss ‘em in olive oil with salt and pepper, grill them then eat them. Other times I toss them in a vinaigrette after grilling for a bit more flavor.

One of my favorite vinaigrettes for the Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables is below. It’s basic and goes with anything you serve. And, feel free to change up the veggies. There is no right or wrong mix.

You can also substitute some soy sauce for the balsamic. If you choose to do that, substitute 1/2 a tsp of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp fresh thyme for the parsley.

Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables 
Read more…