Grilling sides

We don’t do burgers on the grill very often but thought it would fit the bill tonight.  We’ll be at the pool most of the afternoon so didn’t want to do anything too fussy.  Here are some favorite sides if you’re grilling:

Deviled eggs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1.4 tsp dry mustard (more if you want them spicier)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, turn off heat and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Skillet corn

  • 4 – 6 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB butter
  • minced fresh herbs of your choice (I used basil, parsley and chives from the garden)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add butter and corn and cook, stirring occasionally for 8 – 10 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and minced herbs.  Serve hot.

Sliced tomatoes with Green Goddess dressing

Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup chives
  • 2 TB scallion greens
  • 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste (use this even if you think you don’t like anchovies)  🙂
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Serve on sliced tomatoes

Crab feast sides

Most Marylanders love a crab feast.  Picking crabs is a leisurely activity, you pick, you talk, you eat.  We have only had crabs once this summer and are looking forward to a fun evening with good friends and delicious crabs.  The one thing about picking crabs is that you don’t usually get full from the crabmeat.  (You usually get bored before you get full.)  You need some side dishes.  Corn is always popular.  So are deviled eggs and potato salad.  (And brownies for my friend Jack!)

Deviled eggs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1.4 tsp dry mustard (more if you want them spicier)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Brownies

  • 4 ounces Baker’s Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (NOTE: They recently changed their packaging – it used to be a box with 8 squares, 1 oz each.  Now it is a box with a four ounce breakable bar.)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt chocolate, butter and sugar over low heat.  Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  Stir in flour, eggs and vanilla.  Transfer to a 10 x 14 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 22 minutes.  (You can halve the recipe and cook in a smaller square baking pan.)  Remove from oven and let sit in pan for at least an hour before cutting.  You will never bother with a mix again.  I have discovered by accident that these are even better if you make them and freeze them.  When you thaw them they are even fudgier.  So I made a big batch yesterday and when they were completely cool, I wrapped up 3 separate packages of about 12 brownies each.  I’ll get one out this afternoon for tonight and it’s nice knowing that if we have a friend over for dinner, there is always a dessert in the freezer ready to go.

4th of July Crabfeast

Our traditional 4th of July picnic with my in-laws is a crab feast.  We catch the crabs and steam them ourselves.  When you catch them, steam them and pick them you gain a new appreciation for why crabmeat is expensive.  We’ll supplement with corn on the cob, deviled eggs and potato salad.  This year I’m going to make two-berry buckle since it is red, white and blue.

Deviled eggs
Everyone loves these so plan on each person eating at least two.
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Two berry buckle
  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp alt
  • 1 pt blueberries (rinsed and checked for stems)
  • 1 pt raspberries (rinsed and patted dry)
Crumb topping
  • 1/2 stick cold butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • zest from 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 10 or 11 inch gratin dish.
Combine butter, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer.  Add eggs one at  time and beat.  Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until blended.  Fold in fruit carefully and put batter into greased gratin.
Using a pastry cutter or two knives, combine all ingredients until coarsely crumbled.  Spread evenly over batter.
Bake about 45 minutes until golden brown and set.  Cool on a wire rack and serve (ice cream optional!)  Doesn’t that look festive!
Red white and blue dessert for the 4th

Red white and blue dessert for the 4th

Friday night entertaining

Friday night is not the best night for company when you work full time but our friends had family in from out of town and last night was the only time we could get together.  We had a cookout – chicken and burgers on the grill.  I used some “crabbies” from the freezer for pre-dinner snacks and made dessert Thursday night (a repeat of the extremely popular ginger snap sandwich cookies).  The guacamole salad only took a few minutes to assemble and the deviled eggs are a snap.  I invented a new variation on my potato salad which I was very pleased with – apparently everyone else was too because it was all eaten!  Here is the full menu with recipes:

Crabbies

  • 12 English muffins, split
  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Melt butter.  Add cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Spread muffin halves with crab/cheese mixture.  Freeze in freezer bags until ready to use.

To serve, preheat oven to 375.  Bake on cookie sheets for 10 minutes.  Using a pizza cutter, cut each muffin half in 6 pieces.  Serve hot.  (For those who like a lot of spice, top with red pepper flakes.)

Deviled eggs
Classic picnic food – not the easiest to transport but worth the trouble.
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Perdue Perfect Portions work really well!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 TB chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used a mix from my garden – parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary)

Wash and dry chicken breasts.  Put in a glass dish with all ingredients.  Mix well and marinate up to overnight.  Drain off marinade and grill until done.  Serve on hamburger buns with toppings – lettuce, tomato, red onion, etc.  NOTE: Chipotle mayonnaise is great on these!

Guacamole salad

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 avocados, diced

Combine tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno and lime zest in a bowl.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper in a separate container and pour over veggies.  Mix well.  When ready to serve, add avocados and stir to combine.

Lemon chive potato salad

I usually make my potato salad with dill, scallions and mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice.  I wanted something a little bit different and was thinking about the delicious flavor of the grilled lemon chive potatoes that we often serve.  I decided to make a lemon chive potato salad.  Here is what I did:

  • 20 oz small red potatoes
  • 2 TB minced chives
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh ground pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.  When done, drain and put in a glass bowl.  Chop in the bowl using two knives.  Top with fresh ground pepper and chives.  Pour lemon juice on potatoes (it’s important to do this while they are still hot.)  Toss well.  Add mayonnaise and stir.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ginger snap sandwich cookies

  • Ginger snap cookies – I used Anna’s ginger thins
  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 TB cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp milk

Combine butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar together with a mixer.  Split in half.  For chocolate add 4 TB of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tsp milk.  Beat until spreadable.  For lemon add juice and zest of 1 lemon and beat until spreadable.  Spread on ginger cookies and sandwich together.  Freeze until ready to serve.

Summer entertaining

My daughter has a fall birthday so she is going to do a pre-first year before starting First Grade.  It turns out that none of the other kids from her section of kindergarten are going to Pre-First – they are all going on to First Grade.  Her class won’t be very big and we wanted to start giving the kids a chance to get together so we’re hosting some families tonight.  Samantha is referring to it as our party with new friends!

It is summer time and this is a family event so we want it to be casual and easy.  The horrible heat wave from earlier in the week has eased and although it’s still hot, it isn’t as humid so the kids should be able to run around outside.  We’re going with classic cookout food and I’ve been very mature about letting go of my normal control freak need to do everything (in my opinion!)  One of the families is bringing an appetizer and someone else is bringing dessert.  Here is the menu we’re supplying:

  • Grilled hamburgers and grilled chicken breasts with hamburger buns, cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, etc.  (In addition to ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, I’m going to put out some chipotle mayonnaise
  • Deviled eggs
  • Potato salad
  • green salad

I’m marinating the chicken in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.  Here are the recipes for the deviled eggs (which Samantha already helped me make) and the potato salad:

Deviled eggs
It doesn’t matter how many deviled eggs I make, I don’t think I have ever had leftovers.  Typically you’ll hear people say “I haven’t had deviled eggs in ages” as they pop them in their mouths!
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  NOTE: For fancy parties, a small bit of caviar can be added to tops of deviled eggs.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Picnic side dishes

We are hosting my daughter’s class picnic today.  We’re supplying sandwiches for the grownups and people are bringing side dishes.  Since I can tend to be a little bit of a control freak, it is hard for me to do this but it is nice that people want to contribute.  It is the time of year when there are lots of events and you  might have an opportunity to sign up for something.  Here are a few of my favorite things to bring to a picnic (or what I would make if I was doing the menu myself).

Fruit salad basket

Carving a watermelon into a basket makes a great container for fruit salad and it looks like it is a lot harder than it actually is.  Place the watermelon on its flattest side.  You’ll want about a two inch “handle” for your basket so start about 1 inch to right of center and make a straight slice about 1/2 way down the melon.  Repeat about 1 inch left of center.  From the right side, slice the melon horizontally towards the handle slice and remove the section.  Repeat on left side.  Carve out watermelon flesh from handle, leaving rind.  Scoop watermelon flesh from “basket” and use a melon baller to turn watermelon flesh into balls.  Combine watermelon with balls of honeydew, cantaloupe and sliced strawberries or fruit of your choice.  Serve fruit in basket.

Pasta salad

I have made this numerous times and people always ask for the recipe.  They are shocked when I give it to them because they think it is more homemade than it is.  This is a great last minute summer side dish and is easily doubled, tripled or even quadrupled.

  • 1 package fusilli pasta
  • 1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing mix prepared according to package instructions
  • 1 TB capers
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Toss to remove water and then toss with salad dressing.  Add capers and Parmesan cheese.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Toss again before serving.  You could add sliced cherry tomatoes and any blanched vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower would be good) to this salad if you like.
Deviled eggs
It doesn’t matter how many deviled eggs I make, I don’t think I have ever had leftovers.  Typically you’ll hear people say “I haven’t had deviled eggs in ages” as they pop them in their mouths!
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  NOTE: For fancy parties, a small bit of caviar can be added to tops of deviled eggs.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Brownies
Brownies are a great thing to bring to picnics because they are easy to eat.  These are always a hit.
  • 4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (I use Baker’s)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350.  Melt chocolate with sugar and butter, stirring regularly.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 – 10 minutes.  Stir in eggs, flour and vanilla.  Pour into a rectangular baking pan and bake for 22 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit.  Cut into squares.  (For easy cleanup, line your pan with parchment paper  -you can lift the parchment out and cut the brownies and put the pan away.)
Bring any of these along and you will be a very popular picnic guest!