Friday, July 18, 2014

BBQ'd Au Gratin Potatoes

Durning the summer we grill. A. Lot. The grill gets as much use as the oven does during the colder months...and that's pretty telling. We LOVE the grill.

The only problem I have, is that when we are outdoors grilling, I want everything to be made on the grill, outdoors, in one location. I do all the prep and marinating indoors, but when that's done, and the grill is turned on, I don't want to go back inside. I want to be outside, with my friends and family, and not give the kitchen another thought.

This side dish was born out of that desire, and the wish for a starch other than potato or macaroni salad. It's prepped indoors, but cooks outside, utilizing the heat omitted by grill to serve as an oven.


6 small leeks, thinly sliced white and pale green only
A bag of Yukon B potatoes (about 15 small potatoes), thinly sliced
1 cup of 2% milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 TBSP horseradish 
2 TBSP whipped cream cheese
2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter (about 3/4 of a stick), thinly sliced


Leeks are tricky things. You have to wash them. I'll repeat that again. You have to wash them. They grow in sandy soil, which becomes trapped between their layers. In order to prevent a mouthful of sand, the easiest thing is to slice them first, dump the pieces into a strainer, and rinse. Thoroughly.

Once all sand is removed, pat dry and add them to the bottom of a heavy duty foil pan. I use foil on the grill, because the flames and smoke can easily damage non-disposable pans.  This way, I can throw away the whole mess when done; which makes my clean-up easier, and we all know how much I love anything that makes clean-up easier!

Add in the potatoes, and pats of butter.

In a separate bowl, wisk together milk, cream, horseradish, salt and cream cheese. Pour mixture over potatoes, leeks, and butter. Toss to coat vegetables.

Cover with tin foil and place on grill out of the way, on indirect heat. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces potatoes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Roasted Garlic Salsa


1 head of garlic, top sliced off to expose cloves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 red pepper
3 large poblano peppers
2 TBSP fresh cilantro leaves
1 large heirloom tomato (beefsteak tomato size), cut in large pieces
1 shallot
Juice of one lime
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp cracked black pepper 
Sea salt, divided uses


Preheat oven to 450. Place garlic head in center of a tin foil square. Pour a generous amount of olive oil over garlic cloves, and gereously salt the top. Wrap garlic in tinfoil, bringing up edges and crimp closed. Place tin foil bundle on top shelf of oven. Place bell pepper next to garlic. Bake for at least 30 minutes, until garlic is soft, turning pepper over periodically to blister all sides. Add poblano peppers during last 10 minutes. 

Remove from oven, cover and let cool. 

Squeeze garlic cloves out of their peel into a blender bowl, along with any olive oil that pooled to the bottom of the tin foil. Remove stem, skin and seeds from red bell pepper, and add to blender. Remove stem and seeds from poblano peppers and add to bowl. Add tomatoes, shallots, cilantro, 1tsp of salt, pepper, and citrus juice. Combine all ingredients using high pulse. Salsa should have texture without being chunky. Taste for additional salt. Salsa will be relatively mild. 

Melon Mint Sangria

This? Is the summer of Sangria.

It seems like every summer I get focused on a particular food item. Having the time to really work out the kinks, developing flavors, and perfecting the recipe, always works best during the lazy days of summer.  It doesn't hurt that we eat most meals outdoors, have friends over for bbq's, and have access to some really great local ingredients. It's how I perfected my ribs, garlic shrimp, and summer salads. And now, it's coming up with the perfect summer drink. 

I got started on the Fourth of July, wanting to have a fun fruity drink for our annual BBQ...and really, putting together the fruit, liquor, wine, and method was fun.  So fun, that I've now done two other versions, and have a few more percolating around in my brain. 

This particular version however? Might leave them all in the dust. It's that good. However, to quote Levar Burton (as it's also the summer of Reading Rainbow), you don't have to take my word for it. Try it. I guarantee it won't be the only time you do!


1/2 mini watermelon, balled
1/2 french baby melon, balled
1/2 ogen melon, melon
1/2 sugar cube melon, balled
2 limes, thinly sliced
2 TBSP honey
1/4 cup Remy Martin
1 1/2 bottles of Savignion Blanc
1 can of sprite
Handful of fresh mint


Using a melon baller, remove seeds, and ball the flesh of each 1/2 melon. Place half of the melon balls in a large pitcher, and half in a Tupperware container. Place the Tupperware in the freezer. Add lime slices, Remy Martin, and honey to the pitcher. Stir. Pour in wine and mix to combine. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To serve, place 4-6 frozen melon balls in the bottom of a glass, add 3-4 fresh mint leaves, and fill the glass 1/4 way with sprite. Add 2 lime slices, and 6 melon balls from the pitcher to glass. Pour wine to fill, and serve.

Bloody Mary Marinated Tri-Tip

This is perhaps my all time favorite beef marinade. It works equally well with tri-tip as it does with flank or skirt steak. It's got a hint of heat, a dash of sweet, some great salt, and the lime and tomato work together to break down some of the toughness you can find with this cut of meat. Once cooked, the subtle flavors of the meat compliment so many things without overpowering other flavors, that I've used as a base for many different recipes. From beef fajitas to skirt steak topped with chimichurri sauce; a cous-cous steak salad to a cheese steak sandwich, it's a versatile* marinade you need to have in your repitoire. Plus, it's super easy to make, and you can use the left over ingredients to make yourself an actual Bloody Mary while you wait.

2 tri-tip cuts of beef, approximately 4lbs of meat
4 cups of tomato juice
1/4 cup of grapeseed oil
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons creamy horseradish
1 TBlsp celery seed
1 tsp celery salt
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp white pepper
I garlic clove, minced
2 tsp salt 
Dash of Tabasco sauce


Place tri-tip in a large (gallon) ziplock bag. Pour in tomato juice, oil, Worchestershire, and lime. Add dry ingredients. Seal bag, omitting all air, and manipulate liquid around meat until combined. Place in fridge for 4-6 hours. 1/2 hour before grilling, remove meat, pat dry, and let sit out to rest.

Grill on a medium flame, turning every 8 or so minutes, until meat feels firm, but still has some give. (About 25 minutes). Remove from heat and lest rest for 20 minutes. Carve against the grain. 

*lest you think I was over confident about its versatility, we originally served this particular tri-tip as fajitas with grilled veggies. Today I repurposed it as a salad tossed with leftover taco toppings, rose vinegar, evoo, and topped with smoked sea salt. It's the marinade that keeps on giving.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Caprese Salad

Looking for a quick and easy lunch option? Not only does this salad require no heat, but it's just as easy to make and eat at home, as it is to pack up and take on the go. It's a perfect no-fuss, no-muss recipe.


1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
2 oz burrata
1 TBSP micro basil
Rose vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Sun-ripened tomato finishing salt


Place tomato slices on plate. Top with spoon of burrata. Sprinkle basil over top. Drizzle a small amount of vinegar and oil over top. Sprinkle sea salt over top, and place tomato salt directly on burrata.

And that? Is it. You can easily layer and place in a Tupperware to go.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


We have a BBQ every 4th of July. It's been going on for at least 12 years, if not longer. Since we've had kids, the day has included a trip to our small town parade- the same parade I attended every year as a child- followed by "swimming" and food back at our place.

While we tend to serve traditional American fare... Hotdogs, hamburgers, grilled corn-on-the cob, I also try to include a few fun surprises every year.  This year, I decided to play around with Sangria. It worked, almost a little too well, some might say, but it was the perfect addition to a summer BBQ. 

Sangria can be subjective, and it's fun to play around with the wine and fruit you use... But if you want a no-fuss, easy go-to recipe, try mine. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!


2 rip peaches, pitted and sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced (I cut mine into stars for the 4th)
4 ripe plums, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Cointreau
1 and a half bottles of Savigon Blanc


Place sliced fruit at the bottom of a large pitcher. Toss with Cointreau. Add wine and sugar, stir. Refrigerate overnight if serving in morning or early afternoon. Can be made the morning of, and refrigerated all day, if serving at night.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sweet and Tangy Brussel Sprouts

So Brussels weren't part of our FMB this week- but when your three year-old points them out at the store, and squeals in anticipation- you buy them. As, I did.

Always experimenting with different ways to do Brussels, since they are a commonly requested side 'round these parts, I tried a new marinade before roasting them...Delish! Tangy and sweet, you are sure to love it as much as we did.


30 Brussels, washed, cleaned, and halved
2 TBSP Extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP Apple Cider vinegar
1 TBSP honey
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread Brussels evenly on sheet. Drizzle olive oil, vinegar, and honey over the top. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Using your hands, toss Brussels, distributing liquids, and reposition evenly.

Place sheet in top quarter of oven, and roast 20-25 minutes, until Brussels are fork tender.