Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Soup

Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper SoupBlended Summer
I am not a fan of hot weather. I am okay with warm weather which in my world means anywhere from 70 to 85. Anything above that is, as my daughter would say, so gross. And I don’t subscribe to the “At least it’s a dry heat” notion. Hot is hot. Though, I admit, hot with humidity is just…I can’t. I’ve experienced some of the worst heat and humidity this world has to offer from Atlanta in July to Mumbai at any time and I will tell you straight up no way can I live in that environment.

Heat can be a good thing. For example, the recent hot days we have been enjoying and the somewhat cooler nights mean that my tomatoes are literally ripening overnight. The flip side of that is we’re having a hard time keeping up. And there might be some tomato fatigue as far as what sounds good for dinner.

So, as a way to use a bunch of tomatoes at once as well as have something tasty yet cold for a light lunch or even just a mid-afternoon snack, I made this gazpacho from one of my favorite cookbooks, Curate by Katie Button. I like this particular recipe for Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Soup because it is smooth. Some gazpachos are a bit chunky which I find difficult to drink. Also, the soup uses the other veggies in my garden. It pairs well with a side salad for lunch or works as an appetizer before dinner. It’s also great for the beach. Just keep it cold in the cooler.

Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Soup Recipe
Yields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from Curate by Katie Button Read more…

Sausages & Peppers

Sausages & PeppersPick A Peppa
It has become abundantly clear that the month of August will be all about cooking from my garden—with a little protein brought in to round out the meal.

At the moment, my challenge is to use all of the peppers and chilies that are growing like gangbusters. Sure, there are the obvious salsas and salads, but that will only take you so far. The good news is that you can dice up the peppers and freeze them for later. And, this will save you time and prolong the enjoyment of your garden long after the plants are gone.

Still, there is something about picking a pepper, taking it inside, and chopping it up for dinner that is satisfying. So, the other night I did just that. I picked all of the sweet Italian peppers that I could, sliced them up, and made them into sausage and peppers.

Ask any Italian American they will tell you that Sausages & Peppers is some of the best comfort food. And, served in a crusty Italian roll or alongside some cheesy polenta, it’s a mouthful of straight-up yum. I opted for the roll because, for whatever reason, that seemed more like summertime to me. Save the polenta for a chilly evening in the fall…

Sausage & Peppers Recipe
Yields 6 Servings  Read more…

Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Kebobs

Grilled Zucchini Ribbon KebobsMutiny Because of the Bounty
Come with me and let me take you on a little journey to see if this is something you can relate to. It’s February and you’re sitting at the kitchen table, a stack of the latest seed catalogs in front of you. (Ahhhh…that new catalog smell!) The excitement and anticipation of the fresh bounty to come are impossible to contain. And, you are convinced that you actually need every variety of those heirloom tomatoes and squash because who doesn’t like tomatoes and squash? And of course, the best part is sharing with others. So, having too much shouldn’t be a problem. And, you never know when Better Homes and Gardens will call to ask if they can come to do a photoshoot in your garden because it’s Just. That. Awesome.

Fast forward to the end of July. It’s been hot and some of your plants are showing the damage. You’ve battled a round of blossom end rot on your tomatoes. The ants are taking over your bell peppers and your squash “cup” runneth over.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to pawn a lot of my produce off on my sister which, frankly, is one of the reasons I plant a garden. (She loves the produce but her yard is too shady.) But there is still a lot of produce on the vine.

Planting and taking care of a garden is a lot of work but it’s worth it for the fresh produce. There will never be anything that can hold a candle to a homegrown, vine-ripened tomato. But, during the peak months, you will find yourself scrambling to come up with ways to use everything so it doesn’t get wasted. And, in doing so, you might find that you never want to see another pepper in your lifetime. Zucchini is notorious for this.

I love squashes of all kinds. But, even I will get tired of them day after day—especially if they are prepared the same way each time. That being said, I like them cooked simply so you can actually taste the flavors of the squash. Grilling them is my favorite but can be tricky. Cook them a heartbeat too long and they will be mushy.

I saw this recipe for Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Kebobs in the New York Times and wanted to try it because it looked like a great way to avoid soggy squash and the ribbons seemed fun. Play around with the seasonings you use. You don’t have to go with BBQ. Salt, pepper, and olive oil are always fantastic as is your favorite Mediterranean blend. Za’atar would also work really well…

Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Kebobs Recipe
Adapted from Stephen Raichlen and New York Times Cooking
Yields 6 servings

To keep the zucchini crisp during grilling, slice it thinly and cook over a hot fire. The edges char and get crisp like the burnt ends of a rib.

Read more…

Moroccan Kefta Kebobs

Moroccan Kefta KabobsSandwich on a Stick
I spend most of my Summer evenings at the grill. On the weekends I will do the things that take time like ribs or even a smoked brisket. But, during the week, it’s all about getting dinner on the table quickly.

Lately, I have become a little obsessed with anything that can be grilled and put in a pita—as has the rest of my family. I’ve done lamb shoulder, as well as chicken, and at least a couple of times, we went with salmon. My favorite is these Moroccan Kefta Kebobs. Keftas are essentially spiced meatballs that have been pressed onto a skewer and are then grilled.

They can be eaten right off the skewer alongside a cucumber salad and some hummus or some couscous but I like them in a soft pita with sliced tomatoes, a smear of hummus, and some tangy tzatziki.

Grilled Moroccan Kefta Kebobs Recipe
Adapted from The Spruce Eats

You can use ground beef, ground lamb, or a combination of the two for this recipe. This is not a good time to choose lean ground meat. The higher fat content results in more moisture when the kebobs are grilled. Read more…