Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers

Amy's Juicy Lucy BurgersBaseball Habit
When our kids first started to play little league, my husband and I swore we would not become those parents. You know who I am talking about. The almost obsessive, uber-involved people who live for game day, and volunteer for everything. We were convinced that would never be us. We were too laid back and easy going. No way would that happen to the two of us. Besides, we didn’t really even like baseball…

I’m not sure where it all went wrong. At first, it was just a little bit of tee ball a couple of nights a week. Just one or two innings here and there. No big deal. As the years went on, we found ourselves at the fields more and more often watching more and more innings. We just couldn’t get enough. It got so bad we even (gasp) starting watching baseball on TV! (Go Giants!)

Baseball was just the beginning, though. Softball came along and we were caught up in its tangled web of fast pitches. Now it’s to the point where our weekends are devoted to tournaments and our vacations are scheduled around potential plate appearances. I’ve even joined the league Board. We’re out of control. Can no one save us?

All kidding aside, this past weekend it was my pleasure to watch the sunrise at our fields as our league set up for our Annual Opening Day Parade and Ceremonies. Every year on Opening Day, the 1800 or so kids in our league and their parents gather to watch the teams parade through our city and end up at the fields where we are treated to a day of sunshine  (not always) and some great playing. It’s the one day of the year that you can bet that you will see literally everyone you know in the bleachers and it is a day that most of us look forward to with great anticipation.

It takes a lot to put something like that together, so dinners last week were not complicated. Friday night we had burgers ‘cause they are awesome. For me, I am all about the cheeseburger—the cheesier the better. This is why I am a big fan of Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers. (Juicy Lucy Burgers are a thing in Minnesota. You can Google it.)

If you have never tried your burgers this way, I highly recommend that you do. You may never go back to the ordinary cheese on top. This is one of the only times I will say that American Cheese is a must. But, mild or medium cheddar is an acceptable substitute.

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers
Serves 4

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Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden Salsa

Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden SalsaSwimmin’ with the Fishes
Anytime the weather turns sunny and a smidge warmer, I tend to start eating more fish. Maybe it’s the looming promise of bathing suit season but at the first signs of spring, I feel the need to eat a bit lighter.

To say that I dramatically increase my fish intake would be a stretch. It’s a relative thing because I’m not a big lover of fish. I tend to gravitate more towards a cheeseburger.

When I do make fish, I like to go simple with a lot of flavor. That may sound contradictory but let me explain. If I had to pick my favorite fish recipe it would be this one, Salmon Roasted in Butter. It’s so quick to make and with some really fresh Salmon—it melts in your mouth.  One cannot live on Salmon alone, though. It would be boring.
Next best way to make fish? Grill it.

Next best way to make fish? Grill it.

Not all fish does well on the grill. But, Tuna is one of them. Because they are hearty and firm, Tuna steaks are perfect for the grill, and are a great alternative to red meat. They even work well as a burger (for those times when you crave a burger but have to be good). And it happens more than you think…

I usually just brush on some olive oil and sprinkle the steaks with a little salt and pepper. If I want to brighten the flavor up a bit I will top them with mango salsa or even better, with real salsa.

Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden Salsa
Adapted from Rick Bayless

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Panini Sandwiches

Panini SandwichesDun Lost My Mind

It’s the first week of school—which is awesome. But it’s also the first week of school—which is this crazy haze of work, meetings, practices, driving here and driving there, signing this form and signing that form, and Oh by the way we need a check….

It’s a miracle I made it to work today, and can hold a meaningful conversation. The fact that my shoes actually match is a bonus. Adding fuel to the dumpster fire that is this week, my other half is in Asia on business. And I am unable to clone myself.

The other night, when one of my boys asked me what was for dinner, I laughed hysterically at him (okay…it may have been a witch-like cackle), as he backed away slowly, his eyes as big as saucers.

This week, they are on their own. The good news? The kids are actually pretty capable in the kitchen (my daughter especially). They won’t starve, though I am pretty sure my other son will be face down in a mixing bowl full of cereal. You go, boy…

If I have to guess what they will be making themselves for dinner, it would probably be panini sandwiches. My panini press is one of the hardest working appliances in my kitchen. Everyone is a big fan, and the kids love to make their own combinations. You can be sure they will always be overloaded with cheese.

The nice thing is you can make panini sandwiches with or without a press. You only need something to weigh it down. On a personal note, I like to use the Herb Slab bread we get from Semmifreddis for my panini sandwiches. It comes out so crispy. Yum!

This is a recipe blog, so you expect a recipe? (cackling) You will have to look for one yourself! However, here is a great resource from The Food Network, a list of 50 panini recipes with every variation you could dream of. Or check out my Summer Panini post from last year.  Read more…

Backyard Tomato Salad

Tomato SaladGetting Squirrelly

The other day, one of my Facebook memories from a few years ago popped up…a photo of a monumental pile of ripe tomatoes, squash, peppers and cucumbers. It made me nostalgic and sad.

I can’t explain to you the joy I feel when picking fresh tomatoes, fruits and vegetables from my own garden. (I’m kinda weird that way.) Then, of course, there is how they taste, plus the endless possibilities of what to make with them. There was no joy in Mudville this year.

I usually plant during Spring Break, but since we actually went on vacation this year, my tomatoes went in late. Ditto for the squash and the melons—the odds were stacked against them from the beginning.

The biggest obstacle was the attack from above. Our property is a veritable Squirrel Disneyland. They fly from tree to tree without a care in the world and apparently, when they need a snack, they scamper on over to the veggie buffet that is my garden.

Now, I can’t tell you how many times I went out to check the progress of my plants, excited that there was fruit ripening on the vine, only to find the vermin had gone on a binge. I heard them laughing.

So, no tomatoes this year. However, there is good news. My brother-in-law has more than he can handle, so I am being nice and helping him out by making stuff like this…

Backyard Tomato Salad
The flavor in this tomato salad is accentuated by salting the tomatoes, so don’t be shy of this step. I promise it will be delicious, and not too too salty. So, whether you are gathering tomatoes from you own backyard, or stopping by the store to pick up a variety of heirlooms and cherry tomatoes, this is a fantastic summer tomato salad!

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Prosciutto Wrapped Figs And Blue Cheese

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs And Blue CheeseHeadin’ For the Hills 
Every year, for the last thirty years, my family and some of our dearest and closest friends gather at Tahoe for the first two weeks in August. The amazing thing about it, besides the amount of space we take up on the deck at Garwoods, is that the third generation of these families is now carrying on the tradition. We may not see much of each other during the rest of the year, but we all make sure we’re there in August.

During those two weeks we raft down the river, hike, jet ski, go out to dinner, and hang out on the beach catching up and gossiping. As the years go by the little kids become big kids, and the big kids get married, and add more kids ensuring the tradition continues.

One of the best parts is our End of the Summer Beach Barbeque, which happens on the last Saturday. We stay on the beach all day, play red rover, and watch the sun go down over the lake while munching on the grilled sausages and various other tidbits that everyone brings. One of my family’s favorite’s is below. Try them. They’re so good. See you in a week. I’m headin’ to the lake… Read more…

Vietnamese Banh Mi (Sandwiches)

Vietnamese Banh Mi  Bahn Mi for Me

We have three ladies who work for us here in our office without whom this place would fall apart. They represent The Money: from billing and AR, to payroll and HR; they handle it all.

Two are sisters from a large half-Chinese, half-Vietnamese family. I mention this because they have a lot of family get-togethers, and family get-togethers almost always involve food. In this case it’s a lot of food. Good food. A lot of really good Vietnamese food…and I totally benefit from the left-overs that they bring in, when it is all said and done.

It’s not always left-overs. On any given day you can find some tasty treat. Sometimes it’s fresh pork buns, still warm from the ovens of the bakery in Chinatown. Other times there are these cute, little egg tarts that are great with coffee. My favorite meal surprise is the Bahn Mi sandwiches. (My mouth is watering as I write this.)

I love Bahn Mi, and when they magically appear, my day is that much brighter. My favorite is the grilled chicken, but you can never go wrong with the classic. The combination of meat and pickled veggies with the cilantro and chilies on fresh French bread is rhapsodic, and worthy of enthusiastic discussion. In fact, we have been having a conversation about Bahn Mi in the office today—basically echoing the sentiments here. If I were a betting girl, I would lay good odds that I know what we will be having for lunch tomorrow…

Vietnamese Banh Mi (Sandwiches)
Serves 4

This basic recipe is for Grilled Chicken Ban Mi. See below for variations for Black Pepper Pork and vegetarian Lemongrass Tofu.  Read more…

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta Tomato Snob

I love tomatoes, but this love is not unconditional. In my mind, there is nothing worse than a watery, bland tomato. As a card-carrying food snob, I require full tomato flavor—which means that for most of the year, I don’t eat tomatoes. Frankly, an out-of-season tomato doesn’t taste as good.

Now that it’s July, things are lookin’ up.

In an effort to capitalize on the very best tomatoes possible, I planted some in my garden. However, I planted them late, so I’m not sure how well they’ll do. The fruit on the vine is taunting me, but they are not quite ready. So, I continue to wait. Meanwhile, the heirloom tomatoes in the market are fantastic, and I am able to get my fix while I wait for my plants to start producing.

Because home-grown, summertime tomatoes have so much flavor on their own, I like to serve them simply sliced up with a little vinaigrette, or on a toasted slice of French bread–bruschetta style. Throw on some fresh mozzarella and you have a tasty light lunch. I have been known to add goat cheese (or Bellwhether Farms Frommage Blanc for people with a goat cheese aversion).

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta
I use this as my base recipe, and improvise. Read more…

Confetti Corn

Confetti CornConfetti Corn

I’m kinda obsessed with corn at the moment…I think I have had corn with dinner three times this past week. It’s so good right now.

By far my favorite is corn on the cob, but sometimes you gotta branch out and do something different. I have posted my Corn Pie before, and I highly recommend you try that now, when the local corn is like sugar.

There are many good corn salads, but I love this corn side dish from the Barefoot Contessa that my sister made the other night. (I think I had four servings.) I definitely want to try it using a poblano pepper instead of a bell pepper, or maybe even a jalapeño—I would swap some green onion or cilantro for the basil in that case.

Whatever you do, serve Confetti Corn alongside a juicy rib eye for a satisfying summer meal.

Confetti Corn
Adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, on Food Network.
Serves 6 Read more…

Gam’s Bacon Potato Salad

Gams Bacon Potato SaladWhen it comes to the Fourth of July, there are certain rules that must be followed. Well, at least in my world.

There must be ribs and hot dogs. There must be fresh corn. Pies are a deal breaker…no pies, no party…and of course, there must be potato salad.

My favorite is the New Potato Salad adapted from The Barefoot Contessa. There must always be dill In my potato salad and hard boiled eggs. This my line in the sand.

Problem is, I am the only one who digs the dill, so there are compromises. When that happens, I make my grandmother’s version. The only thing better that potato salad with dill is potato salad with bacon…

For a crowd, I have been known to make both, because I am childish that way.

Hope every one has a Happy and Satisfying Fourth of July!!!

Gam’s Bacon Potato Salad
(She called it German Potato Salad, but I think she was wrong) Read more…

Classic Angel Food Cake

Classic Angel Food Cake with BerriesTaking The Cake

Over the weekend, my sister found herself with a bunch of leftover egg whites. That’s the dilemma when you have a recipe that calls for just the yolks. What do you do with the egg whites? Throwing them out is such a waste. There’s the option of making an egg white omelet, but to me that is the flavor equivalent of the color beige…

My sister apparently agrees, since she showed up at my door with half of a freshly baked angel food cake. Angel food cake is my favorite because I am a dessert carb junkie, and it is just so darn versatile.

Serve it plain with fresh berries and whipped cream, shortcake style, for the perfect summer dessert, or use it in layers with lemon curd and berries for a gorgeous trifle which looks great on any 4th of July picnic table. My sister’s version arrived with a decadent chocolate icing…too hard to resist. How can you go wrong? Angel food cake is even great left plain and toasted for breakfast, cause’ you only live once (and there is little to no fat in angel food cake). Yee Haw!

So, separate your eggs with wild abandon—just don’t throw out those whites. Use them for a higher purpose instead!

Classic Angel Food Cake
Yields about 16 servings Read more…