Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's Thursday-Fire Up The Grill

Summer is hands-down the best time of year for vegetables. Nothing beats a tomato from the farmers market, an ear of corn from a roadside stand, or a pepper from your garden.
Even better, many of these summer veggie dishes don't take a lot of time to prep, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time outside dining al fresco. 

Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta
Cook's notes:There are two schools of thought as to what makes the perfect summer tomato salad. There's the minimalist approach, letting ripe tomatoes stand on their own with nothing more than a touch of oil and balsamic which is very good. But another approach that is just as good is tossing tomatoes with red pepper, feta, dill, cucumber, and olives. Both are tasty and delicious. Recipe serves 6 from Faith Durand's blog August 13, 2014
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 pound tomatoes, about 2 large, 1 red and 1 orange 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • flaky sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 pound cucumber (approximately 1/3 cucumber), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Directions:
  • Finely slice the red onion and put the slices in a bowl of cold water while cutting up the rest of the vegetables, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Drain the onion and pat dry.
  • Place the garlic, a pinch of salt, and the vinegar into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.
  • Add the red onion, red pepper, cucumber, olives, and herbs and let marinate for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and feta, and toss gently to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Lift out of the bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving juices behind. Place on a large platter and serve immediately.
Southwestern Salad
Cook's notes: What's not to like in this tasty healthy salad sure to be a family favorite. Perfect side for your grilled chicken.
Recipe comes from iowagirleats.com and serves 2. It can easily be doubled.
Ingredients:
  • 9 oz shredded or chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels sliced from cobs
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Handful blue corn tortilla chips, crushed
  • Ranch dressing
  • Salsa
  • Pico de Gallo
For the Pico de Gallo:

  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 small white onion, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeƱo (or more or less,) seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt

Directions:
  • For the Pico de Gallo: combine ingredients in a small bowl then set aside. Can be done a day ahead of time.
  • Stir together desired amounts of Ranch dressing and salsa (I used roughly 50/50 ratios) in a small bowl to create Salsa-Ranch dressing, then set aside.
  • Add romaine, sweet corn, black beans, tomatoes and desired amount of pico de gallo to a large bowl then toss to combine. Add avocado, crushed tortilla chips, and Salsa-Ranch dressing then toss again to combine. Serve immediately.
WCCO, a local TV station, has an evening short news segment called Good Question. It is hosted by Heather Brown who fields a variety of good questions from viewers. The July issue of Food Network magazine had a similar section on good cooking questions. 
Can you caramelize onions and freeze them?
 Yes, and a very smart idea. Caramelize a big batch and freeze in ice cube trays or a plastic wrapped lined muffin tin until solid; transfer to a resealable plastic bag and freeze them up to three months. Thaw in the microwave, stirring occasionally. 
How to keep fruit pies from becoming too juicy?
Most fruit pie recipes call for a thickening agent, such as flour, cornstarch or tapioca. For the thickener to fully activate, the filling needs to be hot throughout, So look for bubbling juices before you remove pie from the oven. 
Alert: It does help to wait several hours for the filling to set up before slicing.
How to get the smell of garlic off my hands after cooking? 
Try rubbing your hands against a stainless-steel surface such as a spoon or faucet. The sulfuric molecules from the garlic along with the smell will transfer from your hands to to the stainless-steel. You can also rub lemon slices on your hands before washing. 

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