Thursday, July 31

Ginger Cookies

Sweet and spicy ginger cookies are soft in the center and have a crunchy sugar topping

Ginger Cookies Martha Stewart

Ginger cookies don't get as much respect as they deserve. Most people only make ginger cookies and gingerbread around Christmas, but I think they're great year round. I made a batch the other week (based off this Martha Stewart recipe) and sandwiched some homemade peach ice cream in the center for a unique ginger-peach ice cream cookie sandwich. The cookies are soft with slightly crisp edges and they get an extra crunch and sweetness from a layer of white sugar that's sprinkled on top before baking. They are quick to make and leftover dough can even be rolled into a log and kept in the freezer for simple slice-and-bake cookies next time you have a sweet tooth.

More Cookie Recipes:
- Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- White Chocolate Buttered Popcorn Cookies

Ginger Cookies:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp. ground ginger, 2 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper.
  • In another bowl or electric mixer, beat together 1 1/2 sticks room-temperature butter, 1/2 c. brown sugar, and 1/2 c. white sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 1 large egg and 6 tbsp. molasses until combined. 
  • Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Refrigerate the dough for a few minutes, then roll 1 tbsp. amounts of the dough into balls.
  • Place 1/3 c. white sugar on a plate and roll the balls of dough into the sugar to coat completely.
  • Lightly flatten the cookies on the baking sheets, spacing each cookie at least 1 1/2" apart.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, or until soft and slightly crisp at the edges.
  • Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Makes two - three dozen

Wednesday, July 30

Grilled Corn Salad with Red Onion, Feta, & Cilantro

A fresh and crunchy salad made from grilled corn and red onion in a jalapeño-lime dressing

Grilled Corn Salad with Red Onion, Feta, Cilantro

My husband has been grilling nearly every night this summer, so I've been coming up with easy side dishes that we can throw on the grates while the rest of our meal is cooking. Corn on the cob is one of our go-to sides since it's cheap, in season, and only takes about a minute to prep before hitting the grill. This salad just requires a few extra minutes of effort to turn grilled corn on the cob to a delicious Mexican-inspired salad. The grilled corn kernels are tossed with a zippy jalapeño-lime dressing, thinly sliced red onion, salty feta cheese, and fresh cilantro. It's a refreshing salad that has a nice balance of sweet, spicy, and salty flavors. Use it as a summery side dish or try it as a relish on tacos.

Related Recipes:
- Corn, Arugula, & Avocado Salad with Jalapeño-Lime Salad
- Corn & Avocado Salad
- Corn & Chorizo Salad

Grilled Corn Salad with Red Onion, Feta, & Cilantro:
For Dressing
  • Thinly slice 1 jalapeño and remove the seeds.
  • Add 1 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice and the zest of 1/2 lime to a bowl and add in the jalapeño and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Slowly whisk in 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
For Salad
  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Remove the husks and silks from 3 ears of corn and lightly brush with canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the corn for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Let corn cool slightly, then cut the kernels off of the cobs.
  • Toss the corn kernels with 1/2 thinly sliced red onion and the dressing.
  • Sprinkle with 3 oz. crumbled feta cheese and 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves.

Serves four (side dish)

Tuesday, July 29

Five Favorite Quick Weeknight Meals

Some of my favorite quick and easy meals that can be thrown together on even the busiest weeknights

Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas

I started a new job yesterday! I'm thrilled to be taking a new step in my career and am trying to embrace all the changes that come with it. And there are a lot of changes. On the plus side, I'll be receiving free meals everyday and am looking forward to not having to bring my own lunches every week. On the down side, I'm going to be dealing with a much longer commute to my new office. This means I'll be coming home later at night than I'm used to and will have less time to cook my weeknight dinners. I'm hoping that my husband will be able to contribute more to our family's cooking (and maybe even have some guest posts on KSD), but I'm also trying to come up with even more quick and easy recipes that I won't mind whipping up after a long day. While I have hundreds of quick weeknight meals on my blog, here are five of my favorites that are truly the quickest and easiest. Hopefully you and your family will enjoy them as much as we do.

Favorite Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners:
  • Curry Coconut Chicken - A healthy one-pot meal of boneless skinless chicken in a flavorful coconut curry sauce. It can be on the table in under thirty minutes and leftovers taste even better the next day.
  • One-Pot Tomato Farro with Sausage - The total cooking time for this recipe is about thirty minutes, but the active cooking time is only about five minutes. Just brown some sausage, wipe out the pan, dump in the rest of the ingredients, and let everything simmer while you decompress from your day.
  • Baked Cod with Sherry and Butter - You only need three ingredients and about fifteen minutes to make a fancy French fish at home. Throw together a salad or some rice and you'll have a quick weeknight meal that is impressive enough for guests.
  • Bean, Cheese, Avocado & Egg Tostadas - As well as being quick and easy, this recipe is also super cheap to make. Slather some fried tortillas with mashed black beans, grated cheese, a fried egg, and ripe avocado.
  • Shrimp & Burst Tomato Linguine - Shrimp is one of my favorite weeknight-friendly ingredients. The tomatoes and shrimp cook in a pan while the pasta boils for a fast Italian meal.

Looking for more favorite recipes? Check out my favorite easy stir-fries and quick chicken dishes.

Monday, July 28

Bowtie Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas, Ricotta, & Lemon

This one-pot vegetarian pasta proves that simple food is often the best food

Bow Tie Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas and Ricotta from Smitten Kitchen

Whenever I meet new people and they find out that I have a blog, their first question is always "What's your favorite thing to cook?" and the answer is never easy. My favorite thing to cook is not always my favorite thing to eat and my tastes are always changing. On a chilly winter day, my favorite thing to cook is probably a big pot of soup or a braise in my Le Crueset dutch oven. But on a weeknight in the middle of summer? I want to cook whatever is quick and easy and doesn't leave a big mess in the kitchen. Enter this recipe for bow ties with sugar snap peas, ricotta, and lemon, which I adapted from Smitten Kitchen. It's a complete one-pot dish, meaning that the pasta and the vegetables cook together in the same boiling water, then are drained and returned to the same pot to be tossed with some cheese and lemon and herbs. I did go to the extra step and made my own homemade ricotta the night before and I think it was well worth the effort for the extra richness it added to the dish. But if you want to make the dish tonight or don't feel like making your own cheese, just buy some good quality full-fat ricotta from the store and you can have this dinner on the table in about fifteen minutes.

More One-Pot Pasta Recipes:
- Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken, Peas, & Fava Beans
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Corn, Arugula, & Mascarpone Orecchiette

Bowtie Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas, Ricotta, & Lemon:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.
  • Meanwhile, de-string 12 oz. of sugar snap peas and slice into 1/2" pieces.
  • Add 1/2 lb. of bow tie pasta* to the water and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directs.
  • Add in the sugar snaps and cook for another minute.
  • Drain the pasta and peas, reserving 1 c. pasta cooking water.
  • Add the pasta, peas, a splash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot over medium-high heat.
  • Cook for a minute and stir often.
  • Turn off the heat and add in the zest of 1/2 lemon, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, and 3/4 c. fresh ricotta cheese in spoonfuls all over the pasta.
  • Lightly toss but don't fully combine the ricotta.
  • Divide onto plates and garnish with minced parsley and more grated parmesan.

Serves two-three
*Called farfalle pasta.

Friday, July 25

Grilled Flank Steak & Rajas Tacos

Juicy flank steak tacos with a charred poblano pepper and sweet corn relish

Grilled Flank Steak and Poblano Rajas and Corn Tacos

These tacos are a joining of two of my favorite Mexican dishes: grilled steak tacos and poblano rajas. Mexican rajas is traditionally a dish of roasted peppers in a creamy cheesy sauce (check out my version here) that is served with warm tortillas. In this recipe, I take all the same flavors of traditional rajas and turn them into a vegetable relish to go with the steak. The steak, corn, and peppers all cook together on the grill before being sliced to go onto warm corn tortillas. It's a super fresh, healthy, and flavorful meal and is quick enough to make for a weeknight meal. It's also a great option for households where one person is vegetarian since the rajas and some grated cheese make a filling and tasty taco on their own.

More Taco Recipes:
- Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos
- Grilled Vegetable Tacos
- Crispy Ground Beef Tacos

Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with Poblano Rajas & Corn Relish:
  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Remove the husks and silks from 2 ears of corn.
  • Brush the corn, 3 whole poblano peppers, and 1/2 lb. flank steak with canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the peppers for 6 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a plastic bag and let steam for at least 5 minutes.
  • While peppers are steaming, grill the steak and corn for 5 minutes each. Flip the steak halfway through and turn the corn occasionally.
  • Let the steak rest on a plate covered with a foil and take the kernels off the corn cobs and place the kernels in a bowl.
  • Rub the charred skins off the peppers and remove the stem and seeds. Cut the peppers into strips and add to the corn kernels. Check for seasoning.
  • Slice the steak into strips against the grain.
  • To assemble the tacos, place a handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese on top of each of 4 corn tortillas. Spoon some of the rajas and corn relish onto the tortillas, then top with pieces of steak.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Serves two - three

Thursday, July 24

Ricotta Gnocchi with Corn & Chives

Making gnocchi at home is surprisingly quick and easy

Ricotta Gnocchi with Corn and Chives

Gnocchi is one of my favorite things to order at good Italian restaurants. There's nothing better than biting into soft, pillowy clouds of dough coated in flavorful sauce. Great gnocchi should be light and tender and makes an impressive presentation whether it's tossed with tomato-based or cream-based sauces or even a simple brown butter. Traditionally made with potato, ricotta gnocchi has become even more popular lately and is remarkably simple to make at home. The gnocchi dough (based on a recipe from Bon Appetit) requires just five basic ingredients and is combined in the food processor before being piped directly into simmering water. There's no messy rolling and shaping of the dough and the whole process takes less than thirty minutes.

This recipe combines the gnocchi with fresh kernels of corn, mascarpone cheese, and minced chives. The cheese melts to form a rich and creamy sauce that coats each piece of gnocchi, while the corn adds sweetness and crunch. It's an indulgent dish that would be great for a date night or for a small dinner party. You can easily cook the gnocchi in advance and keep it on a sheet pan until you're ready to make the sauce and serve up.

Related Recipes:
- Corn, Arugula, & Mascarpone Orecchiette
- Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce *Not as easy as this recipe.
- Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Corn Sauce

Ricotta Gnocchi with Corn & Chives:
For Gnocchi
  • Line a fine mesh strainer with paper towels and set it over a bowl.
  • Add 2 c. whole-milk ricotta to the strainer and let sit for at least 20 minutes to drain. Discard any liquid the drains out.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Combine the ricotta with 1 egg, 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor and blend to combine.
  • Add 1/2 c. all-purpose flour and pulse to combine until just mixed and smooth.
  • Transfer the gnocchi dough to a resealable plastic bag and snip a 1/2" opening at the corner.*
  • Lower the boiling water to a simmer and, working in two batches, pipe the gnocchi directly into the water. Use a knife to cut off 1" segments of gnocchi as you pipe into the simmering water.
  • Cook the gnocchi for about 3 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.
  • Carefully transfer the cooked gnocchi to an oiled baking sheet using a slotted spoon.
For Sauce and Assembly
  • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add in the kernels from 2 ears of corn and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the gnocchi, 2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese, and a splash of water.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mascarpone melts into a creamy sauce and the gnocchi is warm.
  • Divide onto plates and sprinkle with minced chives.

Serves two-three
*Gnocchi dough can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for a day.

Wednesday, July 23

Grilled Chicken Wings with Jalapeno Yogurt Dip

For a lighter take on buffalo wings, try these grilled salt-and-pepper wings with spicy yogurt dip

Grilled Chicken Wings with Jalapeno Yogurt Dip

I've been making an active effort to try and vary the cuts of meat that I buy and incorporate less expensive and less popular cuts into my cooking. Because only certain cuts of meat are really popular (with chicken, breasts are by far the most common), there's a lot of value in cooking with other parts of the animal. Not only are you getting a great deal, but you'll also be cutting down on waste and helping out your local butcher (try to buy local and humanely raised meat whenever possible). And then there's the fact that less popular cuts of meat can be truly delicious, sometimes even tastier than the more popular cuts. Case in point: chicken wings. They're not just for tailgating and I'd argue that they taste a whole lot better than boneless skinless chicken breasts.

This recipe calls for simply grilled wings that are only seasoned with a little canola oil and salt and pepper. The wings cook on medium-medium high heat so that the skin can render and crisp up without causing too many flare ups that can burn the chicken. I serve the chicken wings with a spicy yogurt sauce (inspired by this Bobby Flay recipe) made from charred jalapenos (which I cook on the grill alongside the wings) and fresh herbs. The heat from the chiles and the creaminess of the yogurt mimics the flavors of traditional buffalo hot wings and blue cheese dip, but with a lot fewer calories. It's a quick and easy meal and makes a fun dinner on weeknights.

More Chicken Wing Recipes:
- Grilled Honey-Lime Sriracha Wings
- Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce
- Sweet & Spicy Asian Wings

Grilled Chicken Wings with Jalapeno Yogurt Dip:
For Jalapeno Yogurt Dip
  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Lightly coat 5 jalapeno peppers and 3 scallions with canola oil.
  • Grill the peppers for 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred. During the last 3-4 minutes, add the scallions to the grill.
  • Transfer the peppers to a plastic bag and let steam for a few minutes. Rub off the charred skins and remove the seeds and stems.
  • Place the peppers, scallions, 1 bunch of parsley leaves, 1 bunch of basil leaves, 1/4 c. olive oil, and a large pinch of salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
  • Stir in 1/2 c. Greek yogurt and taste for seasoning.*
For Grilled Wings
  • Heat a grill to medium high.
  • Toss 2 lb. chicken wings with 2 tbsp. canola oil and salt and pepper.
  • Grill the wings for 15-20 minutes, flipping once or twice, until crispy and cooked through.
  • Serve the wings with jalapeno yogurt dip.

Serves four
*Dip can be made two days ahead and kept in the fridge.

Tuesday, July 22

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella Salad

Grilled summer vegetables and cubes of ciabatta bread tossed with a tangy vinaigrette

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad has been showing up on every cooking show, food magazine, and restaurant menu lately. Originally created by the Italians as a way to use up leftover bread, this salad has close to a 50/50 ratio of croutons to vegetables. If you're a bread lover like me, this is about as good as a salad gets. My recipe calls for throwing almost all the ingredients on the grill, which allows the bread to get crispy and the vegetables to soften and caramelize. It makes a big difference in the overall flavors and textures of the salad and it's perfect for summer barbecues. After the ingredients come off the grill, everything gets tossed with a super tangy and bright red wine vinaigrette. The dressing soaks into the bread but doesn't cause it to turn mushy because of how crispy the croutons get on the grill. I like to serve it warm or at room temperature alongside roasted chicken. Any leftover chicken can be folded into leftover salad for lunch the next day.

Note: I use a grilling basket to grill the cherry tomatoes in this recipe. It's inexpensive and makes grilling small and cut vegetables so quick and easy. If you don't have one, I'd suggest using a grill pan or keeping the tomatoes raw.

Related Recipes:
- Grilled Zucchini Salad
- Homemade Croutons
- Grilled Shrimp Greek Salad

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella Salad:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Slowly whisk in 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil until combined, then stir in 2 tbsp. chopped parsley.
For Salad
  • Heat a grill to  medium high.
  • Slice 1 small loaf of ciabatta bread in half lengthwise and cut 1 red onion in 1" rings.
  • Brush the bread, onion slices, 1 large bell pepper, and 1 pint of cherry tomatoes with canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the bread and vegetables until the bread has toasted (about 4-5 minutes per side) and the veggies are softened (about 4-5 minutes for the onion, 10 minutes for the pepper, and 5-6 minutes for the tomatoes).
  • Cut the bread, onion, and pepper into bite-size pieces and combine with the tomatoes in a bowl.
  • Add in the dressing and toss to combine, then add in 1 c. baby arugula.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serves two (main course) - four (side dish)

Monday, July 21

Grilled Peach & Honey Mascarpone Toasts

This quick and easy toast makes a great breakfast, snack, or party appetizer

Grilled Peach and Honey Mascarpone Cheese Toasts

This recipe was born from a fridge full of the best odds and ends - a wedge of good bread, a ripe summer peach, a bit of mascarpone cheese - that I wanted to use up before a weekend trip to San Francisco. The bread and peach get toasted on the grill together (I actually used a grill pan because I didn't feel like going through the hassle of lighting our big outdoor grill for such a quick dish) which brings out the sugars in the fruit and crisps up the toast. The mascarpone adds a creaminess and the honey adds sweetness, making for a perfect bite. We ate this for breakfast, but it's just as practical to have as a midday snack, party appetizer, or even a simple dessert. Try different variations by swapping the peaches for nectarines, apricots, or plums, and the mascarpone for cream cheese or ricotta.

Splurge on good honey: I used a local wildflower honey for this toast and it made all the difference in the world. Unlike most grocery store honeys, this one was as thick and dark as caramel sauce. It's worth the splurge for a local honey and it will keep in the pantry for years because honey never goes bad!

More Toast Recipes:
- Smoked Salmon Tartines with Fried Capers
- Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini
- Borlotti Beans on Garlic Toasts

Grilled Peach & Honey Mascarpone Toasts:

  • Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat.
  • Lightly brush a 1" thick slice of country-style bread with canola oil.
  • Cut a peach in half, remove the pit, and brush with canola oil.
  • Grill the bread and peach for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until the bread is toasted and the peach has caramelized.
  • Slice the peach into wedges.
  • Spread a layer of mascarpone cheese on the bread, then drizzle with honey and top with some of the sliced peaches.

Make as many as you want

Thursday, July 17

Grilled Japanese-Style Squid

If you only know calamari for fried rings and cocktail sauce, you'll be blown away by this Asian-style grilled squid

Grilled Japanese Calamari Squid

When my husband and I first started dating, we used to eat all the time at a local sushi spot by his house. It was an amazing find in the sea of L.A. sushi restaurants: fresh, inexpensive, and relatively under-the-radar. It's sadly closed now, but I will forever dream of their baby squid steak appetizer: a sizzling plate of squid tossed in a sweet and salty sauce and topped with a shower of scallions...and probably some other ingredients I'm forgetting. This recipe is my attempt at trying to make grilled Japanese squid at home, and I think it came out quite good even if I didn't nail the original recipe. The squid quickly marinates in a simple soy sauce, ginger, and mirin mixture (don't marinate for too long or it will overpower and change the texture of the squid) and then hits a hot grill to char and cook through. It's works as a quick, fun appetizer or pair with some rice and veggies for a cheap weeknight meal.

Related Recipes:
- Serrano Lime Squid with Bok Choy
- Sticky Asian Scallops
- Orange Peel Shrimp

Grilled Japanese-Style Squid:
  • Preheat a grill to high.
  • Combine 1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp. mirin, 1 tbsp. grated fresh gingerroot, 1 tsp. honey, and 1/2 tsp. red chile flakes in a bowl.
  • Clean 3/4 lb. squid and separate the tubes from the tentacles, leaving tubes whole.*
  • Add the squid to the marinade and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Take the squid out of the marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes, turning once.
  • Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce by at least half.
  • Cut the squid tubes into rings and place everything onto a serving plate.
  • Drizzle the sauce over the top and sprinkle with 1-2 thinly sliced scallions.

Serves two (entree) - four (appetizer)
*Don't use pre-cut calamari rings or they will fall through the grill.

Wednesday, July 16

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream

A simple ice cream that tastes like fresh summer peaches at their best

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Is there anything better than homemade peach ice cream in the middle of July? No, there isn't. Ripe peaches are everywhere and after putting them in salads, in tarts, and on grilled meat, it was time to make them into ice cream. This recipe starts with a traditional ice cream base and then adds in a double dose of peaches. Peeled peaches are pureed in the blender and added to the ice cream before churning (fun tip: make extra and save for bellinis) and finely diced peaches are folded into the ice cream before freezing. It makes for a strongly flavored ice cream that tastes exactly like ripe summer peaches and rich cream. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for weeks, but if your house is like mine, I doubt it will last very long.

Related Recipes:
- Blackberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
- Tangelo Orange Sorbet
- Grilled Peach & Caramel Ice Cream Sundaes

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream:
  • Combine 1 1/2 c. heavy cream, 1 1/2 c. whole milk, and 1 c. white sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • In another bowl, whisk together 3 egg yolks.
  • Pour 1/4 c. of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, then slowly whisk in another 1/2 c. of the cream mixture.
  • Slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the simmering cream and bring back to a simmer.
  • Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the ice cream base coats the back of a soup.
  • Strain the ice cream base over a fine mesh strainer to catch any pieces of cooked egg.
  • Peel and chops 3/4 lb. of ripe peaches and place in a blender. Puree the peaches until smooth.
  • Stir the peach puree into the strained ice cream base and refrigerate until cold.*
  • Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Once the ice cream is almost done churning, stir in 1 peeled and diced peach.
  • Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze until firm.

Serves eight-ten
*The ice cream base can stay in the fridge for a day or two before freezing.

Tuesday, July 15

Heirloom Tomato BLTs with Avocado

A focus on quality ingredients and some extra avocado make this the best BLT sandwich you'll ever have

Heirloom Tomato BLT Sandwiches with Avocado

I visited the farmers' market this weekend and it seems that summer produce is officially at its peak. Almost every stall was full of ripe tomatoes and I loaded up on sweet grape and heirloom varieties. When tomatoes are this juicy and fresh, I like to keep things simple and use them raw as often as possible. A BLT sandwich isn't the most inventive use of them, but this version has a few touches that make it the best ever: toasted bread, seasoned heirloom tomatoes, crispy thick-cut bacon, peppery arugula, and an extra creaminess from ripe avocado. It's the little details and quality ingredients that make the sandwich special. Make one for lunch or dinner today and enjoy summer tomatoes at their best.

Note: I won't touch mayo, but I included it in the recipe below since I know it's an essential part of most traditional BLT sandwiches.

Related Recipes:
- Bacon, Egg, & Cheddar Sandwiches
- BGLT Sandwiches
- Chicken Bacon Caesar Sandwiches

Heirloom Tomato BLT Sandwiches with Avocado (BLTA Sandwiches):
  • Put 6 strips of thick-cut bacon into a cold skillet and cook over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the fat renders and the bacon is crispy.
  • Toast 4 slices of sourdough bread until golden brown, thickly slice 1 small heirloom tomato, and thinly slice 1 ripe avocado.
  • Season the tomato and avocado slices with salt and pepper.
  • Lightly spread two pieces of bread with mayonnaise (optional) and lightly smash the avocado slices onto the other two slices of bread.
  • Top with each piece of the mayo-spread bread with a layer of tomatoes, three slices of bacon, a handful of baby arugula, and finish with the avocado-mashed bread.

Serves two

Monday, July 14

Smoked Salmon Tartines with Fried Capers

A twist on traditional bagel and lox, these open-faced sandwiches can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

Smoked Salmon Tartines with Fried Capers and Pickled Red Onions

One of the joys of being an adult, especially an adult without kids to feed, is that you can really eat whatever you want for dinner. Now that summer is nearing its peak, I find myself wanting less elaborate well-rounded meals and less time in the kitchen, opting for simpler fare and a glass of wine in our backyard. These smoked salmon tartines (lightly adapted from Bon Appetit) were a heavenly way to end a hellish workday and were so simple to make. Just toast some bread, spread it with mascarpone, and top it with sliced smoked salmon and few garnishes. The pickled red onion and fried capers (my new obsession!) add a ton of texture and brightness to the dish and can be made in advance for quicker final assembly. It would make a great breakfast, since it's so similar to the classic loaded bagel with lox, or a great party appetizer if used with smaller slices of bread.

Related Recipes:
- Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon & Greens
- Radish and Butter Tartine
- Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini

Smoked Salmon Tartines with Fried Capers:
For Pickled Onions
  • Thinly slice 1/2 red onion and place in a bowl with 1/4 c. red wine vinegar.
  • Let the onions sit for at least an hour (or up to a few days in the fridge).
  • Drain off liquid before using.
For Fried Capers
  • Heat 1/4 c. canola oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Drain and rinse 1 tbsp. capers and pat very dry.
  • Fry the capers in the hot oil for about 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
For Tartines
  • Heat a grill, grill pan, or skillet to high.
  • Slice a small sourdough boule* into four 3/4" thick slices and brush with olive oil.
  • Grill the bread for 3 minutes per side, or until nicely charred and toasted.
  • Let the bread cool a bit, then spread each toast with 1 tbsp. of mascarpone cheese and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  • Take a slice or two of smoked salmon (you'll need about 1/2 lb. total) and lay it over the bread, then top with some pickled red onions, fried capers, and minced chives.

Serves two (entree) - four (appetizer)
*Or any other country-style bread that you can slice yourself.

Friday, July 11

Grilled Steak Salad with Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, & Goat Cheese

This grilled steak and mixed green salad is a healthy no-carb meal that's full of flavor

Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula, Little Gems, Grape Tomatoes, Red Onion, Goat Cheese

I usually never make salads for dinner - they seem like such a let down after a long day - but this grilled steak salad is so tasty and filling that I can make an exception. Just grill a cheap but flavorful cut of steak (I used skirt steak but you could definitely sub in flank or hanger or something similar), slice it against the grain, and serve it on top of some mixed greens, ripe grape tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and a handful of crumbled goat cheese. The dressing has a few more ingredients than I normally use, but I had everything in my pantry already and you probably do too. The worcestershire sauce adds a salty umami flavor to the dressing and brings out a steakhouse-quality taste to the meat. It's the perfect meal to make on a hot summer night when you don't feel like turning on the oven.

Related Recipes:
- Thai-Style Beef Salad
- Lamb Sausage & Mixed Green Salad
- Loaded Wedge Salad

Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Greens, Tomatoes, Red Onion, & Goat Cheese:
For Balsamic-Worcestershire Dressing
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce, a dash of hot sauce, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Slowly whisk in 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil until emulsified.
For Steak & Salad
  • Preheat a grill to high.
  • Brush 3/4 lb. skirt steak with canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the steak for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-medium rare, depending on thickness.
  • Remove the steak and let rest, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, toss 4 oz. baby arugula with 1 the leaves from 1 head of little gem lettuce,* 1 c. halved grape tomatoes, and 1/4 thinly sliced red onion.
  • Add in some of the dressing and a bit of freshly cracked black pepper and toss to combine.
  • Arrange the salad onto plates or a platter and sprinkle with 2-3 oz. fresh goat cheese.
  • Slice the steak against the grain and arrange the meat on top of the salad.

Serves two-three (main course)
*Can substitute little gems with half a head of butter lettuce or romaine.

Thursday, July 10

Grilled Sesame-Soy Bok Choy Salad

Raw and grilled baby bok choy makes for an interesting and flavorful salad

Grilled Sesame Soy Bok Choy Salad

I make a lot of Asian food at home, but I often struggle to come up with quick and easy Asian-inspired veggie sides to pair with the meal. This recipe for grilled bok choy salad was a revelation and is great to serve this summer when the grill is already fired up for other dishes (we like to serve the salad with these grilled Korean short ribs). The recipe is inspired by a dish in Laura Russell's Brassicas and calls for separating the leafy green tops from the crunchy bulbs of bok choy. The bulbs get charred on the grill while the leaves stay raw and everything gets tossed with a simple sesame-soy dressing. With all the different temperatures and textures and flavors, it's amazing that the whole salad is made from just one vegetable. And since bok choy is a really affordable veggie, the whole dish costs about $2 to make.

Note: If you don't have an outdoor grill, try making this with a hot grill pan.

More Bok Choy Recipes:
- Bok Choy Asian Noodles
- Serrano-Lime Squid & Bok Choy
- Lazy Pho with Bok Choy

Grilled Sesame-Soy Bok Choy Salad:
  • Preheat a grill to high.
  • Cut the leafy green tops off of 3-4 heads of small bok choy, then cut the bulbs into halves or quarters (depending on size).
  • Cut the green tops into thin ribbons and set aside.
  • Toss the bok choy bulbs with 1 tbsp. canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil, 1/2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, and 1 tsp. soy sauce. Check for seasoning and set dressing aside.
  • Grill the bulbs for 3-4 minutes per side, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until charred and crisp-tender.
  • Toss the greens with some of the dressing and arrange on a plate or platter.
  • Arrange the grill bok choy on top and drizzle with remaining dressing.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves two-four (side dish)

Wednesday, July 9

Sticky Asian Scallops

Quickly seared scallops finished with a sweet and sticky Asian pan sauce

Jamie Oliver Sticky Asian Scallops

Scallops are one of my favorite things to eat and cook, especially during the summer. They're sweet and tender and cook quickly (which is perfect for those hot evenings where you don't want to spend time in the kitchen) but still feel fancy enough for a dinner party or romantic meal at home. These sticky scallops are based off a recipe from Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes. The scallops are dusted with Chinese five spice powder and quickly seared in a hot pan before being finished with a sweet-spicy sauce that thickens into a delicious glaze. The whole recipe takes just a few minutes to make but looks restaurant-quality. We ate it with some coconut rice, which was perfect for soaking up all the sauce.

More Scallop Recipes:
- Jalapeno-Corn Soup with Seared Scallops
- Scallops with Baked Saffron Risotto
- Seared Scallops with Fennel & Kumquat Salad

Sticky Asian Scallops:
  • Remove the side muscle from 3/4 lb. fresh scallops,* rinse them, and pat them very dry.
  • Season the scallops with 1 tsp. lemon zest, 1 heaping tsp. Chinese five spice powder, and salt.
  • Finely mince 1/2 red chile** and 1 clove of garlic and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp. honey.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until nearly smoking.
  • Add in the scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown.
  • Flip the scallops and sprinkle the garlic and chile on top.
  • Cook for another minute, then add in the lemon-honey mixture.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in 1 1/2 tbsp. cold butter until melted.
  • Divide the scallops onto plates, spoon the sauce on top, and sprinkle with a handful of fresh cilantro leaves.

Serves two
*Try to find dry-packed large sea scallops.
**I used a Fresno chile. Remove the seeds if you want it less spicy.

Tuesday, July 8

Swiss Chard, Potato, & Aged Cheddar Frittata

Cook your frittatas under the broiler for a fluffy souffle-like center and a crunchy cheesy top

Swiss Chard, Potato, & Aged Cheddar Frittata

We spent the last week up at the lake in Minnesota with our family. My in-laws have property right on the water and enough space to accommodate a pretty big crew. There were twelve of us and two cute dogs this year, and we divided up meals so that everyone could contribute. For breakfast, I made two big frittatas that were loosely based on this recipe and they were a big hit. The key is to sprinkle the top with cheese (rather than mixing it into the beaten eggs) and then finish cooking the frittatas in the oven so that the cheese melts and browns into a crispy golden crust. The eggs puff up under the hot broiler to take on an almost souffle-like quality that is much lighter and fluffier than traditional frittatas. Leftover frittata slices can be reheated the next day, tucked into bread for an egg sandwich, or eaten at room temperature.

More One-Pan Egg Dishes:
- Mini Spinach & Onion Frittatas
- Crab & Fava Bean Omelet
- Brussels Sprout & Cheddar Frittata

Swiss Chard, Potato, Onion, & Aged Cheddar Frittata:
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Peel and dice 1 large russet potato and 1 yellow onion into small pieces.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, 1/4 c. milk, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 tsp. red chile flakes until light and frothy.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a 6"-8" skillet over medium heat.
  • Cook the potato for 4-5 minutes, then add in the onion and cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and brown in some places.
  • Add in 4 c. baby swiss chard and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the chard has wilted.
  • Pour the eggs over the vegetables, then sprinkle the top with 1/3 c. grated aged cheddar cheese.
  • Bake the frittata for 8-10 minutes, or until just a little jiggly, then transfer to a hot broiler for another 2-3 minutes, or until the top is golden.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then slice into wedges and serve.

Serves three-four

Tuesday, July 1

Homemade Magic Shell Chocolate Syrup

It only takes two ingredients and a microwave to make homemade magic shell for your next ice cream sundae

Homemade Magic Shell Chocolate Syrup for Ice Cream

There's nothing quite like a scoop of ice cream topped with instantly-hardening magic shell chocolate sauce to bring back memories of childhood. As a kid, we would get the occasional dipped soft serve cone from Dairy Queen or a store-bought bottle of Magic Shell to add to our homemade sundaes and it was so fun to watch the sauce turn into a hard chocolate shell on top of the ice cream. This article from Food52 shows how to make the magic shell at home, although I tweaked with the proportions a little bit to make a thicker, more chocolatey sauce. All you need is some good quality chocolate, coconut oil, and a microwave (I almost always have both ingredients in my pantry). It's obviously the perfect pairing to a scoop of ice cream, but you could also try dipping frozen bananas, strawberries, cheesecake bites, etc. like a reverse chocolate fondue. It's a fun thing to make for kids, but trust me that friends and family of all ages will be delighted to make their own magic shell sundaes at home.

Related Recipes:
- Blackberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
- Salted Caramel Banana Royale
- Pecan-Oatmeal-Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Homemade Magic Shell Chocolate Syrup:
  • Place 4 oz. semisweet chocolate and 1/4 c. coconut oil in a microwavable container.
  • Microwave for about 1 minute, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is fully melted.
  • Let the sauce cool a bit if needed, then spoon over ice cream.

Makes about eight sundaes