Steak salad

We played golf this afternoon and I wanted a dinner that would be quick to pull together when we got back. This steak salad did the trick. I used fresh marjoram and thyme from my garden. I should have been able to use beautiful heirloom tomatoes from my garden but I’m in a war with a squirrel who has been eating the green tomatoes off the vine before they ripen. I’m really annoyed as I have 10 varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I was looking forward to enjoying in all sorts of dishes. If you have tactics for scaring away squirrels, let me know!

Grilled Flank steak salad

  • flank steak
  • romaine lettuce
  • red onion cut into wedges
  • tomatoes (heirloom if you don’t have a squirrel problem)
  • vinaigrette


  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TB chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 TB chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 1/2 TB Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk first 6 ingredients together in a small bowl and then slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Pour half over the steak and marinate, refrigerated for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Grill steak for 10 – 12 minutes, turning once. Remove from grill to rest and grill onion wedges for 5 minutes.

Arrange lettuce on plates and top with steak and veggies. Serve the dressing at the table.

I also made eggplant stacks in an attempt to model the Eggplant Napoleon appetizer served at Petit Louis. I made a huge batch of pesto – fortunately the squirrels don’t seem to like basil and I have a bumper crop of that. Petit Louis makes the eggplant Napoleon with fried eggplant, goat cheese, pesto, tomato and tapenade. Keith and Samantha aren’t enthused about olives and I already had tomatoes in the salad so I just did a layer of fried eggplant topped with goat cheese, topped with another layer of eggplant topped with pesto and topped it with a third layer of fried eggplant. (I dipped the eggplant in egg wash and then panko and fried it in hot canola oil.) Samantha said “Mom, can you make this at least once a week?” ūüôā

Salad plate

We were on the Eastern Shore for the weekend and got steamed crabs on Saturday. We intentionally bought extra. We “rough cleaned” them (you remove the shell and legs and just have the claws and the bodies) and brought them back. I picked the remainder tonight and made crab salad (just crabmeat, a little paprika, some lemon juice, mayonnaise and celery salt.) I served it with a sliced tomato from my garden, sliced hard-boiled egg, sliced avocado, and leftover pasta salad. Delicious!

Bobbing and weaving

Our schedule is off this week as we deal with some family complications. We are taking things one day at a time. I’m not really used to that. Tonight we had a pasta salad that Samantha chose from an old cookbook of mine called Cold Pasta. We tweaked it a bit – she doesn’t like tomatoes so she put chopped red bell pepper in hers. I enjoyed some fabulous heirloom tomatoes that I found at the store – some of my tomato plants have blossoms already!

Basil pasta salad

  • 3 – 4 servings pasta (we used farfalle, recipe called for radiatore, but they didn’t have that)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (I used really good olive oil that a friend brought me from Italy)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil (I was able to get from my garden)
  • Parmesan cheese to taste (Samantha might have gone a little bit overboard)
  • chopped fresh tomatoes or vegetable of your choice
  • salt and pepper

Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse with a little cool water to reduce heat of pasta and drain. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss with basil, cheese and vegetables. Easy, light and refreshing summer dinner – can’t wait until the tomatoes are from my garden!)

End of summer :(

I hate to see summer coming to an end.  I love the sun, the pool, the warm weather, the fresh produce, etc. and dread winter with short days, cold weather, snow and ice.  I love to enjoy seasonal foods and although oysters will be some consolation during winter months, it seemed like a good idea to enjoy soft shells one more time.  I have three soft shell preparations that I love (with mustard sauce, Thai curry and on salad Рall recipes on blog) but decided to go with the salad option tonight since we have fresh cherry tomatoes in our garden.

Soft Shell Crab Salad

  • Soft shell crabs, cleaned (1 -2 per person)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Panko (1 cup) – you can also use any combination of flour, panko and Wondra flour
  • Canola or vegetable¬†oil
  • Salad greens (I use Mache but your choice and availability)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Pesto

Preheat oven to 450.  Wash greens and arrange on plates.

Whisk together Mayonnaise and Pesto.  Taste and adjust to suit.

Dip soft crabs in egg and then panko.  In a non-stick saucepan over medium heat, swirl in oil.  Cook crabs starting wit the shell side down.  Cover pan to avoid spattering.  After 4 minutes, toss to other side.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.  Remove to a baking sheet (cover baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup) and transfer to oven for 5-6 minutes.  (This sets the meat.)

Top each salad with 1 -2 crabs.  Drizzle with Pesto dressing and sprinkle with halved grape tomatoes.  Serve.

The pesto and the tomatoes help to make it a celebration of summer!

Summer favorite

This is one of our absolute favorite summer dinners.  The beef shish kabobs are so good and leftovers will be terrific later in the week.  I got this recipe from a coworker almost 30 years ago.  She and her husband invited me to their home for dinner and served me these beef kabobs.  They were generous enough to share the recipe and I always think of them when I make it.

Shish Kabob

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TB dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar.  Marinate sirloin cubes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and red onions (quartered).  Skewer and grill.  Serve over rice.

Leftover marinade

The chipotle marinade that I made keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks.  That works out really well because it is so good on almost anything.  We used it on boneless pork chops with roasted potatoes.  A good simple dinner on a Thursday night.

If you missed the marinade, here is the recipe:

Chipotle marinade 

  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 TB tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender. ¬†NOTE: This marinade has some zip. ¬†You don’t need to drench your protein in it, just dip it and let it sit for a little before grilling.

I served it with roasted potatoes and a simple salad.  For the salad, I made a dressing with raspberry vinaigrette, olive oil and shallot and poured it over some mache with a little bit of crumbled feta and sliced cherry tomatoes from our garden.


Burgers and fries

Samantha spent last week on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, attending the Oxford kid’s camp and staying with her grandparents. ¬†Keith took her last Sunday and spent the night so I invited my mom over for tuna burgers and sweet potato fries. ¬†(Keith doesn’t love tuna as much as I do so it was a good opportunity.) ¬†I hadn’t made these in a few years and forgot how spicy they are. ¬†Unless you like heat, go light on the chipotle pepper.

Grilled Tuna Burgers with lemon aioli

  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB canola oil
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (save remaining peppers in the fridge for marinade or other recipes) – I used one and I would use less next time
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • 3/4 lb fresh tuna, finely chopped
  • watercress
  • hamburger rolls (I used the brioche buns that Graul’s has been selling)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix mustard, oil, pepper, lime juice and zest, honey and scallions in a food processor. ¬†Fold into tuna with a spatula and shape into patties. ¬†Refrigerate until ready to cook ‚Äď at least 1 hour. ¬†Mix mayo, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice together in a small bowl. ¬†Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Grill burgers on high for about 3 minutes a side (I used a grill pan and cooked them on the stove).  Serve on buns with lemon aioli and watercress.  Makes two burgers.

Oven baked sweet potato fries

  • 2 ‚Äď 3 sweet potatoes cut into strips
  • 2¬†TB olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper

Preheat oven to 450. ¬†Toss potato strips with all other ingredients and spread out on a sheet pan lined with foil. ¬†Bake 25 ‚Äď 30 minutes stirring halfway through. ¬†NOTE: You can tweak the seasonings to suit your tastes. ¬†I like the chipotle pepper on the sweet potatoes.


Steak and salad – the summer version

We had friends over last Sunday night.  I wanted to spend most of the afternoon at the pool and give them something delicious.  This marinade is one of my favorites.  We used Porterhouse steaks since they were on sale but this is delicious on any protein Рstrip steaks, pork chops, chicken, shrimp, etc.

Chipotle marinade 

  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 TB tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender. ¬†NOTE: Marinade keeps well in refrigerator. ¬†Marinade is spicy so you don’t need to drench the protein in it. ¬†Just spoon some on each side and then grill to your taste. ¬† We served it with my favorite summer salad:

Grilled Vegetable Salad

  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Eggplant, sliced
  • 2 Zuchini, sliced
  • 3 Peppers (Red, Yellow or Orange), sliced
  • 1 Red Onion, sliced
  • 6 slices French Bread or your choice (I‚Äôm using a few slices each of Semolina Batard and Olive Batard)
  • 2 Tomatoes, sliced
  • Salad greens (I‚Äôm using mache)
  • 2 TB Basil, chopped
  • 2 TB Chives, chopped
  • 1 TB Marjoram, chopped
  • 4 oz. Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Brush eggplant, zucchini, onion and pepper slices with oil and vinegar mix and season to taste with salt and pepper and grill.  (Reserve remaining marinade.)  Brush bread slices with olive oil and grill.

Spread salad greens on a platter.  Top with tomato slices and then grilled vegetables.  Sprinkle with goat cheese and chopped herbs.  Pour reserved oil and vinegar over salad and grate parmesan cheese over all.  Top with grilled bread slices and serve with tongs.

The weather was so pleasant that we ate outside.  What a fun evening!


Crab salad

Keith asked for crab salad and fortunately crab meat was on sale at Graul’s. ¬†We both love the taste of this and it is quick and easy to put together. ¬†Sometimes I serve it with avocado, hard boiled egg and/or cooked shrimp. ¬†We always serve it with sliced tomatoes.

Crab salad

  • 1 lb crabmeat
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

Drain crabmeat and place in a small bowl.  Check for shells.  Sprinkle with celery salt, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice and toss to combine.  Add mayonnaise and stir in with a spatula being careful not to break up lumps of crab.  Serve on lettuce with sides of your choice.

Such a great dinner on a hot summer night!


Summer eating

Summer is now officially here. ¬†Samantha is out of school, swim team practice is underway and I’m looking for dinners that are quick to fix and light. ¬†Last night we had grilled chicken in one of my favorite marinades. ¬†The good news is that there is leftover marinade in the fridge¬†(and leftover chicken for some spicy chicken salad tomorrow.)¬†I’m thinking grilled chipotle shrimp next week. ¬†Here is the recipe.

Chipotle marinade 

  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 TB tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  NOTE: Marinade keeps well in refrigerator.  Spray bone in chicken breasts with Pam and then grill for 5 minutes over direct heat with the meat side down and then 15 Р20 minutes over indirect heat, flipped over (varies a bit based on the size of the chicken).  He then covered it with aluminum foil and let it rest.

We were going to have grilled asparagus but the produce stand was sold out.  They did have squash so I sautéed it in olive oil with some fresh herbs from my garden.  Delicious!

Chipotle grilled chicken and sautéed squash

Chipotle grilled chicken and sautéed squash

Tonight we had sesame shrimp salad.  Warning Рthis one is spicy!

Sesame shrimp salad

  • 1 TB sugar
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1 TB water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 TB orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 jumbo shrimp per person (peeled and deveined)
  • Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 TB sesame seeds

Combine sugar, juice of 2 limes, water and garlic in a small pan.  Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp chili garlic sauce and fish sauce.

Wash and dry greens and combine in a large bowl with carrot and sesame seeds.  Toss with dressing mixture (sugar/lime syrup with chili garlic and fish sauce) and divide between plates.

Combine juice of remaining lime, remaining chili garlic sauce, marmalade and 1 tsp of oil in a bowl and whisk.  Toss shrimp in bowl and stir to coat well.  Marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Heat remaining tsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. ¬†Add shrimp and marinade and cook 3 ‚Äď 5 minutes until shrimp are pink and glazed. ¬† Divide shrimp and glaze between salad plates. ¬†Serve.

Spicy shrimp salad

Spicy shrimp salad