Last night Trevor was out for a fantasy football draft and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner.  With tomatoes overflowing on my bush outside, courtesy of the extremely hot weather we’ve had these past few days, I decided to put them to good use.  A quick bath in olive oil and balsamic gives the tomatoes and amazing flavor with minimal effort.

Enough tomatoes to fill the number of rolls you will be serving
Rolls, split in half
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Garlic
Fresh Basil, chopped
Mozzarella (fresh)

Chop the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil, vinegar, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and the basil.  Allow to marinate for a few minutes.  In a skillet over med-high heat coat the bottom with olive oil and throw in 1-2 cloves of minced garlic.  Toast the bread (cut side down) until crisp.  Add a slice or two of the cheese to the bread and the marinated tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the best.  On a busy weekday night, after a long day at work, sometimes it’s nice to get some fresh air outdoors while grilling a meal that took a whole of 25 min from start to finish.  Oh, and it’s also nice to relieve a little guilt by cooking some red meat for your hubby, since the last time you brought some home from the store was over 6 months ago (ok, so maybe that’s just me).  You may also think that this looks like an expensive meal, but at a whopping 6 bucks for two people to eat, I would say it wasn’t half bad (thanks to Costco).

Enough Steak (we used tri-tip) for about 1/2lb. per person
Emeril’s Steak Rub (or the rub of your choice)
1 bunch of Asparagus, washed and ends trimmed off
Olive Oil
1 Lemon, halved
Salt/Pepper

Rub you steak with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with the steak rub.  Allow to sit for a moment while the grill heats up (or overnight in the fridge if you remember).  Meanwhile, toss your asparagus with olive oil, salt, pepper, and squeeze one of the lemon halves over it.  Throw the steak over the grill (about med. heat), and cook for about 5 min, then throw your asparagus on as well.  Continue to cook your steak and asparagus for another 10+ minutes, or until your desired done-ness is reached.  Let stand for 10-15 min to retain the juices. Cut the power, gas, heat-source to your grill and call it a night.

Wait—–stop!  I know that the heading alone probably has you already thinking of two terrible images: ground turkey being masqueraded around as beef, and dry, gross, flavorless meatloaf.  For this, I am truly sorry.  I, myself, never enjoyed meatloaf until I tried this variation from the Barefoot Contessa.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals (and trust me, he is NOT a fan of switching out real food for its low cal, low fat substitutes).  This meatloaf is moist, has amazing flavor, and carries caramelized onions littered throughout.  Try it and you won’t be sorry.  You can eat it with my full fat garlic mashed potatoes (coming to a blog near you), if you really want to make up for some of the lost calories.  Please half her recipe or you’ll be eating this for a week (or more).

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions) (I prefer red onions in this)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Whole Whole—there’s so  much that I want to say to you.  I love how you taste nutty and earthy and how you have such a lovely hearty texture.  However, I don’t love how you tend to make things unbearably dense and occasionally bitter.  I want to love you unconditionally, I really do, but I can’t.  Maybe I’m just too selfish, or maybe you’re just unwilling to change, but I just can’t see us making this work.  I don’t want to keep adulterating you by mixing you with White Flour to make you palatable.  I know this sounds harsh, but that’s how it is.

Whole Wheat had a response that not only stopped my melancholy monologue dead in its tracks, but renewed my love for it in a way I didn’t think possible.  What an easy solution to a seemingly unsolvable problem.

In a bread machine add:

1 1/8 cups water
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Remove from machine, roll into a log, place in a well oil/floured loaf pan, and allow to rise for about an hour, or until it’s filled the pan.  Bake at 350F for 40-45 min or until golden brown, with an internal temp of 200F (or crunchy on the outside and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom).

skewers

I love simple things.  Ok, so I also like really complicated things, but I want them to be about chemistry and philosophy, not cooking.  While my parents were in town two very important things happened (other than the obvious wonderful time together): The girls beat the boys in trivial pursuit (ok, ok…so the second round, not so much) and we ate skewers.

Always great for a party, you can make them up the night before and send your husband to man the grill the next day.  If you don’t have a grilling husband, you can always pull a few friends/family members outside to socialize with you.

Supplies:

chicken, cut into chunks
beef, cut into chunks
various bell peppers
pineapple
red onion
your favorite teriyaki sauce
bamboo or metal skewers

Load the meat, veggies, and fruit onto the skewers, alternating the items as you go.  Place them in a shallow dish (like a 9×13) and pour the teriyaki over them to marinate.*  When you’re ready to cook, heat your grill and cook for about 7-10 min, flip over, and cook for another 10-12 min, or until done.

If you want to check out something TOTALLY different, a friend of mine asked me to guest blog on his page.  It’s up now.  Check it out.

*If you want some extra spice, add some crushed red pepper to the marinade.

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I usually work until about 5pm.  By the time I get home, get settled, and start looking to my menu for the evening I’m pretty much ready to have food ready, not just starting it.  Thus, I like to keep a couple of these sort of recipes in tote for a quick fix of something home cooked without spending more than about 20 min doing it.

For this one, all you need are enough chicken pieces (skin on) for your family (for us, that was two).  Sprinkle with cayanne pepper, salt, and black pepper.  In a grill pan over med-high, cook for 20 min, turning sides every 5 or so.  It’s that easy.  Really lovely crispy texture without the frying in deep oil, either.  Serve with a little rice or potato.

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