Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot
What do you eat when it feels like you’re living on the face of the sun? I have lived in California my whole life and yes, in August and even into September, we typically will get days that are in the 100s. The lightning show we had over the weekend is definitely not typical nor is the humidity that went with it. I don’t know how people who live in hot and humid locations do it. Personally, I don’t handle it well.

My sister and her husband lived in Atlanta for a few years and I remember visiting them and felling like I was going to pass out—and it wasn’t even the height of the summer! You walk out the door freshly showered and you’re immediately sticky. I’ll take the dry heat, thank you. Even without the humidity just the thought of making something for dinner in the hot weather makes me sweat.

I am not a salad person per se. I like salads but they are not my go-to first choice for an actual meal. I usually have them with a meal so that I don’t go looking for a snack an hour later. The exception to that is when it’s hot outside. For the past week I have been enjoying a number of heartier salads including a couple of chef’s salads as well as various tomato salads. My tomatoes are loving the weather even if I am not. So, we have been trying to eat them as fast as we can.

Salads work for me in the heat for two reasons. First, not having to turn on a hot stove, oven or even the grill is an obvious benefit. Second, I tend to not eat as much in the heat so what would normally leave me hungry in an hour, actually fills me up just fine.

This recipe for Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad is perfect for summer weather because it combines some of the best produce of the season with cheese. How could you possibly go wrong? The original recipe calls for peaches but I prefer nectarines. (Mainly because I’m not a fan of the fuzziness of the peach skin.) I have made this according to the original recipe many times, but I have also made it with the addition of fresh mango and/or cucumber to the mix. It’s tasty and cooling at the same time…

Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
Adapted from Bon Appetit Read more…

Tomato Explosion

Tomato Explosion For the past week, despite the best efforts of my chicken and the ground squirrels, I have been experiencing a tomato explosion in my garden. Home grown tomatoes are one of summer’s best things. But, as much as I am thrilled to have them, I am running out of ways to eat them.

My favorite way to eat tomatoes is semi bruschetta style or what some may call tartine. I fry a slice crusty bread in olive oil until it is golden brown on both sides. Then I lay alternating slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella on the bread and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil. Finish it off with a little salt and some fresh pepper and you have the best lunch in the world. But even the best lunch can’t be eaten every day.

I’ve also sliced my tomatoes up and served them on a platter alongside some ripe avocado slices with a drizzle of Italian dressing for an easy dinner side dish that goes well with anything coming off of the grill on a hot night. Of course there have been many sandwiches made with thick tomato slices adorning them. And so on…

I could make a tomato tart. But, I feel like exposing these beauties to heat would be a travesty. I have posted a number of tomato recipes on the blog over the years so I figured I would go back and take a spin through the archives. (I have also been doing this with the back issues of magazines that I have saved. It’s made coming up with dinner ideas a bit easier. And, it’s helped jump start my cooking brain again..) I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of tomato recipes that I haven’t made in a while. It’s like what’s old is new again and the Tomato, Chile, Melon Salad is calling my name!

I am slowly making my way through them all and the good news is my tomato pile is getting more manageable but the green ones still on the vine tell me that there are more coming…if the squirrels don’t get them first.

Here’s my list of recipes. Read more…

Pine Nut Vinaigrette

Pine Nut VinaigretteGiving Thanks for Dad
If there is one thing I know it’s that my family isn’t normal. From the outside looking in, we may seem like your typical family of five. But, in reality, we are more than a few degrees off-center. The following is the most recent example.

Like most other families during the shelter-in-place order, we have been spending more time outside enjoying our backyard. The more we were out there the more it became obvious that our backyard space was in need of some serious help. So for the last month, that’s what we have been doing—little by little. It started with a fire pit that the family gave me as a birthday present. And, quickly turned into a much larger home improvement project culminating in the building of an outdoor bar.

The bar happened because we were sitting around the fire pit one night and I got thirsty. I mentioned that it would be cool to have a bar outside ‘cause I was feeling lazy and having to walk to the kitchen was just too far. This is where things got kinda nutty. Ideas and possible designs were thrown out for consideration. The kids were in on it, too. (I know. Great parenting. The kids are designing a bar. At least they learned some rough carpentry skills. That’s good, right?) Everything came together when I remembered the Mexican tiles and sink we had sitting in the garage.

Seventeen years ago I was pregnant with twins and my husband and I, knowing things were never going to be the same again, went on a vacation to Peurto Vallarta as the last hurrah before the boys showed up. While we were there we found a tile shop downtown that was filled with the most amazing Talavera tiles and sinks. I forced my husband to haul a sink and about 40 tiles home on the plane in a backpack with the idea that we would use them in the bathroom of our new house. That never happened. They sat in the garage until we moved into our current house ten years ago where they sat in the garage again until last month.

Long story (sort of) short, the tiles and sink are now part of a lovely and very sturdy (my love has a tendency to over-engineer) outdoor bar that looks like a Mexican cantina complete with a palm roof. The plan was to get it done by Father’s Day and we did. Naturally, I assumed we would be toasting Dad and breaking in the new bar with tacos and margaritas. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

When asked what he wanted to have for his Father’s Day feast my husband declared that he wanted his favorite dinner in the world, Thanksgiving. In June. In 90 degree heat. Do you know how hard it is to find Thanksgiving stuff in June? During a pandemic?

The turkey was the easiest part. I roasted two turkey breasts, mashed some potatoes, and baked the stuffing outside of the bird. We even had pecan pie thanks to my daughter. My sister, the smart one, was in charge of the green beans and made something that was more in line with the weather and the time of year. She got a bunch of green beans, steamed them, and dunked them in cold water to stop the cooking and keep them crunchy. She then dried them off and spread them on a platter, scattered some sliced cherry tomatoes around, and topped them off with a tasty Pine Nut Vinaigrette. It was the perfect way to cut all of the richness and carbs of Thanksgiving in June. In our Mexican cantina…

Pine Nut Vinaigrette
Adapted from Six Seasons: An New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden Read more…

Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad

Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad

Sunday Morning Hazards
Sometimes my mouth gets me in trouble. Sometimes I agree to things without thinking. Sometimes it’s worth it.

Last Sunday morning, we were couch-surfing after a tasty French toast breakfast and the Pioneer Woman was on the TV (because the Food Network is always my daughter’s first choice unless any of the Harry Potter movies are on). I wasn’t really paying attention but I had a vague idea that it was on in the background. Our plans that day revolved around a woodwork project for the back patio so I was trying to figure out my plan of attack. It was then that I heard my husband announce to the room” I want that for dinner!” and I stopped everything that I was doing to take a look.

It is rare that a member of my family tells me exactly what they want to eat without any prompting from me. Usually, there is a lot of back and forth about what sounds good? What do we have in the fridge? Etc..So when someone says I want that, it’s kind of a big deal. I said yes without hesitation. I was already planning on going to the store anyway so no biggie…right?

This, of course, was all before I spent the next 6 hours crouched down staining two by fours in the sun. When we finished our project and it was time for dinner I was less enthusiastic about our dinner plans and promises I made. Thankfully the recipe came together easily and went well with the pork chops I threw on the grill. Even better it made enough to cover lunch the next day. (This recipe actually makes a lot. It would be perfect for a potluck…when we can do that again!) In fact, it was even better the next day.

I wasn’t better the next day. I was walking like the tin man….

Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network
Yields 6 servings Read more…