Tag Archives: Summer

Summertime Farrotto (Farro Risotto)

Ugh, this week kinda stinks.  Even though I only have three days of classes, I have two tests and I definitely didn’t study at all over the long weekend.  So, it’s a little bit stressful but it’s also my fault and I know it, and that’s the worst combination.

So in times of stress, what do I do?  Yep.  Try new recipes.

I’ve had some farro in the cupboards for a while now, and with the fresh carrots from the CSA box, and frozen peas from my parent’s garden, I knew there was something magical to be made.  As I was sitting in class, thinking about how much studying needed to happen tonight, a wisp of an idea took flight.  Farrotto.  Farro.  In risotto form.

Summertime Farrotto (serves 4-6)  Summertime Farrotto Recipe Card

  • 1 C dry farro
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, or 4 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 C frozen peas (I actually had 1 1/4 C of peas, so I just used ’em all)
  • 4-5 C broth (I’d suggest using half water and half broth so it’s not too salty) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (1 t fresh leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, heat the broth and water combo in a small saucepan over medium heat–you can bring to a boil and then turn down to just below a simmer.  The key for cooking a risotto (or a farrotto, in fact) is to keep the broth hot at all times, but to not boil it off, either).

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, carrots, and peas.  Saute until softened.  Add the bay leaf and thyme, and cook another minute.  Meanwhile, I’d suggest giving the farro a quick whirl in a food processor just to break up the big grains a bit–not too much, just to crack most of ’em.  Once the veggies are softened, add the farro and stir around for a minute or two just to toast ’em.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the broth half a cup at a time, allowing all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.  Also make sure you keep that farrotto stirred up–you don’t want a crust on the bottom, like a paella.  Once the broth is absorbed, add another half a cup.  Keep adding it until the farro reaches the creamy and soft consistency you want.  I used all five cups, but you could stop at four if you wanted.

Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

We served this with a gorgeous steak (thanks, Dad!) that had a dill and chili powder dry rub on it, grilled to perfection by the grill master himself (hi Fritz!).  On the side we each had half of a small zucchini that was spritzed with olive oil and dusted with smoked paprika before being grilled facedown.

Heaven.

I couldn’t decide which part of the meal I liked best–the farrotto, the zucchini, or the steak.  So yummy.  It’s also nice to have the rest of the meal be so easy because risotto-style cooking requires you to stand by the oven for a while.  With the dry rub already made in the cupboard, all I had to do was hand the meat and veggie part of dinner over to Fritz.

And for dessert we watched an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County because, let’s be honest, we all crave junk sometimes!

I’m off to make vast quantities of tea and stay up late studying.  Wish me luck–lots of it.

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Filed under Side Dishes

Quinoa Fruit Salad

Doesn’t the weekend just go way, way too fast?  I’m so bummed that it’s already Sunday night, even though we had a fun-packed weekend and Fritz is outside grilling chicken so I can have a beautiful salad tomorrow like the world’s best husband that he is.

Still.  I wish it was Friday morning again.  But since it’s not, here’s an awesome fruit salad recipe that I promise you will love.  You’ll think it’s gorgeous, you’ll want to kiss it, you’ll want to hug it, you’ll want to love it…(Miss Congeniality, anyone?)

Quinoa Fruit Salad (original recipe from Oh She Glows, serves 4-6) 

Printable Recipe Card

  • 3/4 C dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 apple, rinsed and diced
  • 3 peaches, rinsed and diced
  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • sprinkle of salt

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, remembering to rinse it first to get rid of that bitter taste.  Meanwhile, slice the fruit (and feel free to adapt the fruit in any way–use whatever you have around the house!) and layer it in a deep bowl.  When the quinoa is cooked and fluffed (it doesn’t need to be cooled), toss that on top, too.

Toss the dressing ingredients over the top and mix, mix, mix.  I found this to be the perfect amount of sweetness (and just a teensy hint of balsamic), but you can always adjust to your own taste.  The lime also keeps the apple from browning, which is nice.

Either serve warm as is (because you probably wont be able to resist it), or cool in the fridge prior to serving.

Angela also added almonds to her salad, which I can imagine would be amazing if you plan on eating it all in one day.  I know we’ll have some leftover for school tomorrow, so I left out what I knew would end up as soggy nuts.  Which is never a good thing to have.

Ahem.  Anyway.  I love, love, love this salad.  Sometimes I forget that quinoa is so yummy in a sweet dish, so I’m glad I had a reminder.

I also got to chat with some lovely people at the farmstand by my house when I went to pick up some strawberries.  I’ll tell you all about that (and the recipe I left with!) on another day.

Because I want to start the week off on the right foot, I’ll leave you with a picture that my mom posted on facebook today.  It’s a throwback to the old days, when my little sister Kristen (who is applying to vet schools as we speak) first discovered her true love for animals:

It makes me laugh every time I look at it.  For, like, ten minutes.

No frogs were harmed (other than possible psychological damage) in the making of this photo.

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Filed under Salads

Mint and Lemon Iced Green Tea

I actually made this a few days ago, when it was 95 degrees and humid outside (and inside).  Today it’s more like 60 degrees and cold, and raining, and I’m wrapped in a blanket drinking tea of the hot and English breakfast variety.  But because I know it’s going to rapidly return to the boiling point, I’m going to post this anyway.  We’ll be better off prepared for what’s coming.

This is an iced tea recipe I found online a few years ago and wrote down on a notepad.  That was pre-blog, when I was unaware that I would be posting my favorite recipes for the world to view, and I should probably be able to cite from whence they came.  So if this is your recipe, please tell me and I’ll gladly let everyone know!  I’m sure I’ve changed it a bit since I originally found it, so it may be unrecognizable by now, anyway.

Sorry.

Mint and Lemon Iced Green Tea (serves 6-8)

  • 6 bags of green tea
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bunches of mint (10-12 good-sized leaves)
  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • 10-15 ice cubes

This is a pretty simple recipe, and I’ll warn you–I used to add sugar into the boiling water, but this year Fritz and I stopped adding sugar to our beverages.  It took a little getting used to, but now everything tastes just as good as it used to.  Amazing how sugar feels absolutely necessary until you just stop using it.  But if you want to, you still can.  I think the original recipe called for 1/3 C? Maybe even 1/2 C of sugar.

Anyway, heat up the two quarts of water until boiling, then add the tea bags and take it off the heat.  That’s important–don’t boil the tea bags, ’cause it won’t taste good.  Just let them steep in the hot water for eight minutes.

While the tea is steeping, slice the lemons in half.  I usually cut off a few thin slices to put in the pitcher, and juice the rest.  Rinse the mint leaves and tear them in half.  Toss them in the bottom of the pitcher, along with the ice.

Once the tea is ready, remove the tea bags and pour the green tea over the ice.

This is also important–let this tea rest for a while!  It’s really good the next day, when it’s icy cold and the mint and lemon flavor are really strong.  You should probably make this tea the day before you want to use it, but at least a few hours.  The mint is what makes this perfect for a hot summery day, so it’s worth the wait.

Enjoy with a barbeque, or day by the pool, or you can take it to class like I did so you can imagine you are at the beach.

This recipe is also easily doubleable, and it looks very pretty at a party with the mint and lemon in the pitcher.  You could also put a little sprig in each person’s glass.

And hey, you could spike it with a little spiced rum, too…if you wanted.  Just sayin’.

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Filed under Beverages

Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I forgot all about this recipe until very recently.  It’s nothing too exciting; in fact, it’s the perfect example of “you can’t go wrong with the classics” and “less is more”.

My love for chicken salad sandwiches started when I was in middle school–there was a small cafe that opened in my hometown within walking distance of campus.  My friend Meghan actually worked there for a while, and we used to absolutely rave about their chicken salad, which were best when served on toasted bagels.  The best part about the salad was that it was studded with pieces of tangy and sweet green apple.

I’ve adapted this recipe over the years, and yesterday’s version was by far the best.  And that was a happy accident.

Fritz grilled some chicken for us yesterday, and we had three breasts all frozen together.  I told him to defrost all three, grill one, and I’d use two of them the next day for chicken salad.  He thought I meant he should grill all three of them, and when he coated them in a thin layer of BBQ sauce, I thought the resulting chicken salad might be a little too weird.

Wrong.

It was so good!  The smoky BBQ sauce was only a pretty thin layer on the chicken, and it actually worked perfectly for this recipe–you could hardly taste it, but what you could was a perfect addition to the basic chicken salad taste.

Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches (this makes enough for four hearty sandwiches, but you could easily multiply this recipe!)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1-2 T of your favorite BBQ sauce (we used a mesquite flavor)
  • 1/2 tart green apple (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1/3-1/4 C mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

It doesn’t take a genius to make most recipes–this one included.

Grill the chicken over high heat, coating once with a thin layer of BBQ sauce.  If you a BBQ sauce lover, then you can add more, but I really would suggest going light.  You want to taste the actual chicken in this salad.

Once it’s cooled (I usually use leftover chicken, so this is an even easier summer recipe), cut into small chunks–about 1/2″ big or a tad bit smaller.  Dice the apple (I like the apple pieces to be about the same size as the chicken, but you can go smaller if you want less crunch and more homogeneity in every bite) and mix.

Stir in the mayonnaise, going a spoonful at a time.  I normally hate mayonnaise, but this recipe really does it for me.  As long as I wash my hands 100 times after eating it (is there anything worse than the smell of mayonnaise on your hands?).  However, the last thing you want to do is add too much mayonnaise, ’cause you can’t take it back.

Season with salt and pepper–we actually didn’t have to add any to this particular recipe, but sometimes I add a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a small amount of salt; it does depend on how salty your mayonnaise is, though!

Serve on toasted sesame buns, or bagels, or even plain white bread.

To each his own, you know.  Although I personally feel the bread needs to be toasted for appropriate enjoyment.

Fritz said this was the best version of this recipe I’ve made, and I credit the BBQ sauce incident.  Well done, Fritz.

I also made this salad for some friends of ours lately, and they also liked it.  It’s perfect for a hot summer day (hello heat wave this week!) when you can’t even contemplate turning on the oven, or if you have some leftover chicken you need to use up.

I also make a turkey/cranberry version after Thanksgiving.  Instead of apples, sometimes I use green grapes.  Try anything!

We served it with edamame.  Isn’t it so fun to eat edamame out of the pods?  Sometimes I buy it already shelled, and it’s just not as satisfying.  Too bad, ’cause it’s more expensive in the pods.

We pick up our CSA box in a few hours!  I can’t wait–looks like I can expect to see red boston lettuce, a lettuce mix, arugala, baby spinach, garlic scrapes, swiss chard, and red beets.  Heavy on the lettuce, but that’s expected this early in the season, and perfect since I’ve been having a green monster every morning and going through spinach super fast!

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Filed under Entrees

White Summery Sangria

Happy Memorial Day!  It’s also my two-year anniversary with Fritz, and his sister Eber’s birthday.  A giant day of celebration all around.  Even though we are hundreds of miles apart, Fritz still managed to be his adorable self and texted me a picture of pancakes that he made “for me”, but sadly, had to eat alone.  Is that cute or what?

We are also celebrating around these parts by having a backyard summer BBQ–I made my standard summer picnic pasta salad which my family has never had before!  Weird, because I’ve been making it for years–just never made it around here, I guess.  Dad went fishing and brought home some lovely rainbow and brown trout this morning, and I made a tarragon/lemon/garlic mayonnaise to grill it with–you’ll see that tomorrow.  Most importantly, Mom and I decided to make a summery white sangria to celebrate.

It started off being red (cherry, strawberries), white (wine), and blue (blueberries) for Memorial Day, but we wanted to add some citrus, too, so now it’s just a gorgeous rainbow.  You can admire mine, or there’s still time to run to the grocery store and get the stuff to make your own.  Up to you!

White Summery Sangria

  • 1 bottle dry white wine (chardonnay, pinot grigio, etc)
  • 1-2 C of orange juice
  • 1/2 L of club soda (or one or two cans)
  • 2 T sugar (adjust to taste–it all depends on how sweet you like your drinks!)
  • Fruit–whatever you like!  We used 2 lemons, 1 lime, 1 C blueberries, 10-12 big strawberries, and a handful of cherries

Wash and slice the fruit, layering and arranging them in a large pitcher (we actually used a small 1-L pitcher for the table, and a large plastic one for “refills” later). 

Pour the orange juice and wine over the fruit and gently stir.  Add sugar according to taste. 

Chill the sangria in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.  Right before, pour the club soda over the top, give it a mix, and enjoy.  All these pictures are pre-club soda, since we haven’t had dinner yet!

It is so refreshing, light, and delicious.

A perfect summer drink that also makes a beautiful centerpiece for a nice dinner–you can arrange leftover limes and lemons on the table for gorgeous look, too.  We’ll be slicing lemon to be served with the fish, and it’ll look great next to the sangria.

I also like the white sangria better than the traditional red–it just feels lighter and brighter.  It reminds me a bit of Fritz’s favorite summer drink, a gin and tonic (or a G&T, if you’re in the know).

We also celebrated Memorial Day by going to my hometown’s parade this morning, and we ran into some friends there.

Hi Sarah, Josh, and Cora!

I love this parade because it goes by literally in a flash–small town, small parade.  I used to march proudly in this parade with my girl scout troop–go Brownies!

Hope you have a beautiful Memorial day, and happy anniversary to the best husband, student, dentist, brother, son, friend, cat owner, and all-around good guy I have ever known:

And of course, happy birthday to Eber:

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Grilled Summer Corn Salad

Best news ever.  I have officially completed the end of my second year of PT school.  I’m a third year!

It feels amazing.  Especially because:

  1. I don’t feel guilty about cooking and/or blogging instead of studying.
  2. I may be able to actually read a large section of a book tomorrow without falling asleep.
  3. I can go to the gym for a whole hour and a half! Maybe even two hours!
  4. The sun came out for two minutes when I walked out of school.  Coincidence?
  5. My friends are coming over tonight, and if it doesn’t start raining again, we can use the fire pit!
  6. Fritz and I are going to Boston this weekend to celebrate my younger sister’s 21st birthday (happy birthday, Kristen!)!
  7. I made grilled summer corn salad for dinner–and finally learned to turn on the grill all by myself (about time, huh?)
  8. Fritz got sworn in as an American citizen yesterday.  God bless America.

Grilled Corn Summer Salad (original recipe here)

  • 3 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 1 small eggplant, cut in half lengthwise OR 1 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2-3 T chive blossom vinegar or other vinegar of choice
  • 2 T minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Turn on the grill to high, oil it, and let it heat up for about ten minutes.  Lay the corn and eggplant (or squash) directly on the grill, turning a few times, for about 20 minutes, until slightly charred and cooked.

Slice the eggplant/squash into cubes.  I used eggplant, but I really think I would have liked the taste and texture of the squash better–brighter and a little less…eggplanty.  Next, cut the corn kernels off the cob.

I love corn on the cob, and charred?  Even better.  I could have eaten all three ears for dinner, but I thought Fritz might appreciate an actual meal for once.  Add the diced tomato, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar.  Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remember that chive blossom vinegar?  Here it is, in the most gorgeous bright pink ever found in nature.  This is seriously only colored by the chive blossoms!  I let it sit for a week, and when I tasted it today I decided a week was enough–nice, strong chive taste (but not too strong).

I was only about 90% thrilled with this salad, but I think it would have been 100% with the switch from eggplant to summer squash.  The corn added a really nice touch of sweetness to the salad that was quite enjoyable.  Also, I love corn.  Have I said that?

It’s delicious.

Now if it would just stay nice outside!

I also got to pick some of our flowers from the garden for the first time this year, and they dress up the house instantly:

Amusing fact: I took out a cut crystal vase we received as a wedding gift to hold the flowers, laughed hysterically (so not me), and immediately put them into a washed out chutney bottle.  Ahhh.  Much better.

This is also Fritz’s first full day as an American!  Look at how cute he was getting all dressed up to go be sworn in:

I think that tomorrow some friends and I are getting together to make some yummy frozen treats, and then we are headed off to Boston for the weekend!

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Filed under Salads

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

What a beautiful weekend.  Seriously.  I don’t even care that I didn’t study nearly enough for my final and most likely didn’t do that well, judging from the despair I felt while gaping at the first page.  But, that’s all over with (I’m sure I didn’t fail) and now we can just move on to the next test, and meanwhile I’ll just start enjoying summer (or spring…you know.  I get excited).

Four fun things that happened recently:

1) We went to my BFF Jen’s house for a mother’s day/birthday BBQ, and I brought my go-to “summer is here!” pasta salad.

I’m pretty excited for warm weather.

BBQ weather.

That’s why I married a South African.  Strictly for the BBQ.

2)  Jen’s mom gave us the rights to a pile o’ firewood that they had for their old fire pit, which has been replaced by one that burns sterno.

3) Fritz bought a fire pit on sale at Home Depot.

Let the marshmallow toasting begin!

4)  Jen’s mom also gave us a backup battery for our new camera, because she accidentally bought the wrong size for her new camera.  Score!

Love that woman.  And not just for the presents.

But let’s get back to the pasta salad.  It’s based on a recipe my old roommate in college used to make, and now it’s a staple for any grillin’ adventure that may take place.  I love it.  I’m obsessed with it.  It’s easy, it’s versatile, it uses whatever ingredients you have in the house, it’s healthy, and everyone likes it.

What else do you want from me?  I’m giving you a gift here!  Free of charge!

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

  • 1 box whole-wheat penne (or you can use any other pasta shape, but I always stick with penne, ’cause the peas fit so perfectly inside)
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1/2 C grated carrot
  • 1/2 C sliced artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes (sometimes I use halved grape tomatoes, around 1 C)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 3-5 T olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (1/4 C? 1/3 C? I never measure–just pour over and taste, taste, taste until you like it!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T light italian dressing–I only use this occasionally, when I’m trying to finish off a bottle or the pasta tastes a bit dry.  You definitely don’t need it!

Cook the pasta according to directions, and drain it. 

Speaking of pasta, I feel like I’ve been totally cheated!  The Barilla pasta I used to use is only 51% whole-wheat, and I just noticed it.  So not cool, Barilla.  I grabbed a few America’s Choice store brand whole-wheat pasta, which is made with all durum semolina flour, and I felt better.  Plus it was on sale, and I love a sale.

Dump the pasta in a bowl and add the frozen peas, which cools it to room temperature quite nicely.  Add the rest of your toppings of choice, then start dressing it. 

Not exactly the most helpful recipe, I know, but seriously, all you need is the idea.  I usually drizzle the olive oil over the top, mix that in, and then go to town with the balsamic.  Once I get the right taste, I salt and pepper it just a touch.  The artichoke hearts and olives add a nice touch of brine and the sun-dried tomatoes!  Just yum.

This is good.  Guh–ood.  Not to mention that eating this pasta salad fills me with the joy that is a summer BBQ.

So come over and hang out at my new fire pit!  Who needs to study, anyway?

Here’s the birthday girl herself:

And blowing out her birthday candles:

Happy birthday, Jenny!  Next time this year, we’ll be graduating!

It was a good day.  Nothin’ like a BBQ to take my mind off of life.

What’s your go-to dish for a summer picnic?

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Filed under Salads