Grilled Summer Veggies with Forbidden Rice

Everyone knows summer is awesome.  Seriously.  Ask anyone.  Especially kids.  And it doesn’t hurt to live in the Napa Valley where the weather is stupidly perfect.  Today it was 72 and sunny with a slight breeze, which is fairytale weather.

So one of the best things about the good weather and the summerness of it all is the grill.  I can’t even tell you how much I love barbecues.  It’s one of my top 10 favorite things, along with puppies, drinking free wine and David Sedaris novels.  But, since I’ve been trying to eat less meat these days (you know, to singlehandedly save the world) I have to find other things to grill.  Luckily, grilled veggies are amazing and delicious, so, crisis averted.

Grilling veggies is easy.  All you need are veggies, a grill and an easy marinade.  I also made some forbidden rice to go along with them, which I didn’t take a photo of.  It’s this cool, totally black rice that has a really great texture and flavor.  I suggest you go buy a bag of it and then prepare it according to the directions on the bad.  It’s that easy.

So, the kinds of veggies you used are up to you.  I used:

Portabello mushrooms

Yellow squash

Zucchini

Asparagus

Red onion

Sweet peppers

Pasilla peppers

Aaaand that’s it.

But really, feel free to use any of your favorite veggies!  Like carrots, or brussel sprouts, or broccoli.  Anything really works.  The important thing is the marinade, which is also simple.  You’ll need:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 lemons (juiced)

1 tsp kosher salt

Ground pepper

Okay, so basically you want to combine these ingredients and let them sit together for at least an hour before you used them on the vegetables.

After chopping up your veggies and letting the marinade stew a little bit, pour the whole marinade over the veggies and toss like a salad.  Let the veggies sit in the marinade for about 15 minutes.

Also, be sure to drink some wine.

Now, prepare your grill…however you do that.  All grills are different.

We have this nifty basket thing to put the veggies in so they don’t sit directly on the grill.  I highly recommend it, because you can cook a larger amount at a time and you don’t have to turn everything over individually.

Depending on how hot the grill is you can leave the vegetables on anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  If your veggies seem to be taking to long, try closing the lid of the bbq for a couple minutes to seal in the heat, but not for too long because you don’t want too much smoke all up in the veggies.  Make sure to constantly check and stir them.  If you’ve got a really hot grill, they can easily burn.

Like I said, serve these with some forbidden rice and you won’t be sorry, but they’re also just great as a side dish for any bbq.  Or even just on their own as a snack.  Enjoy!

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Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad

I think we can all agree that one of the best things about summer is the BBQ’s.  There is something completely magical about a warm summer evening, a grill, and friends and family enjoying good food and drinks.  It’s probably one of my favorite things in the entire world.  Like, right up there with puppies and books by David Sedaris.

In that same vein, one of the best BBQ accompaniments is the potato salad.  Now, a potato salad is one of those things that can go so right or so wrong.  A bad potato salad is so sad. So bland.  So greasy.  No flavor.  You know you’ve had that potato salad before.  And then a good potato salad is just so damn good.  Creamy, flavorful, cool and spicy.  The perfect partner to a juicy burger or hot dog.  And does anyone else like their hot dogs totally burnt? I freaking love that.

I like to think of myself as a potato salad connoisseur, traveling the globe, sampling various potato salads and bestowing upon them my expert opinion.  No one really wants my opinion, but I give it regardless.  So, the other night, I made it my mission to make my ideal potato salad.  Obviously, bacon would be a factor.  But what else?  Then it hit me.

Blue cheese.

And with that, we’ll begin the recipe.

4 lbs red potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonaise

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

8 oz crumbled blue cheese

1 tbsp mustard seeds

2 tsp salt

2 tsp fresh black pepper

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

8 strips of bacon, cooked to a crisp

It goes great with steak.

So, first, you want to boil the potatoes.  Put all the potatoes in a big pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Then let them sit at a boil for about 6 minutes.  When they’re done, strain the water and let them cool.

While the potatoes are boiling you can fry up your bacon.  If you’re not well versed in frying bacon, the key is to fry it on a low heat.  It takes a while to get the bacon to really crisp up, but a high temperature puts you at risk for burning the bacon.  When the bacon is cooked, transfer it to a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.  Once the bacon is nice and crispy, chopped it up as finely as you can manage and set aside.

Now you’re ready to make the dressing.  It’s pretty simple, just mix the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, blue cheese, mustard seeds, salt, pepper and green onion altogether in a bowl.

When the potatoes have cooled off all the way, mix in the dressing and bacon so that all the potatoes are coated and mushed in.  You are going to love this delicious, creamy salad!  And if you need to make it a day ahead, go for it!  I actually think it’s better when all the mix has been sitting together and melding for a day.

Buen provecho, and happy barbecuing!

Homemade Sweet Pickles

I love homemade things.  Well, I guess every time you cook something it’s homemade, so that makes sense, but I love things that you usually buy but that you can easily make homemade.  It makes them seem so much more special, and they make great gifts.  Also, I’m bored a lot, and cooking eases the boredome.

My mom is a big fan of sweet pickles and I really like them too, especially now that the weather is warming up.  They’re a yummy, cool, crisp snack.  I found this really easy recipe on Allrecipes.com.  It’s easy.  It’s like, so easy.  If you don’t feel like clicking the link, here’s the recipe.

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup salt (I actually used about half this and found it to be the right amount)

1 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

2 pounds cucumbers

2 sweet onions

In a small saucepan at medium-high heat, combine cider vinegar, salt, sugar, tumeric and mustard seed. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 more minutes.
Meanwhile, slice cucumbers and onion. Loosely pack the vegetables in a 1-quart canning jar or other similarly sized container. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables in the container. Refrigerate for 24 hours and enjoy! Keep refrigerated.
I did a couple jars with spears, like this.  And then I did a jar of sandwich slices.  Those actually were even better because they absorb more of the flavor and you can put them on sammiches!
Highly recommend these tasty treats.  They are the perfect summer snack.  Buen provecho!

 

Simple Summery Side Salad

So, as we all know, it’s March.  But, apparently, California’s weather gods haven’t gotten the memo.  It’s been sunny and warm every day, recently, so I’ve been finding myself craving summery things.  Things like popsicles, swimming, doing nothing and yummy light salads.  This salad is a double whammy, because it’s a variation on one that my childhood best friend’s mom used to cook for us all the time.  It’s really simple and really yummy.

Ingredients:

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (we’re talking as thin as you can get.)

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Basically, you combine all the ingredients aaaaand that’s it.  I like to make this salad a day ahead of time, or at least a couple hours, because the onion soaks in the balsamic and it softens and sweetens it.  It is a really nice, crispy addition to a summertime meal, like a barbecue or…I mean does anyone eat anything but barbecue in the summer?  Maybe a sandwich.  Also you can eat this during the other seasons.  It makes 4 servings and each serving is 5 Weight Watchers points.  Enjoy!