Monday, July 21, 2014

Fresh Asparagus Pesto

The hours are long, and the days are filled with sunshine and rainbows. It is nice to have summer after a record setting winter. I want to make my summer epic. I want to stretch each minute of each day to maximize my summer bliss. I hope that everyone is making their summer epic and full of adventure, balanced with a good dose of lazy Sundays. On those lazy Sundays, I have a lazy asparagus pesto, to help you make dinner time slow and maybe even beach worthy.

I stumbled across this asparagus pesto recipe from Food & Wine magazine. It is fast and easy, and tastes fantastic! Dollops of this pesto would be great on top of freshly cooked grains or lentils. Stirred in at the last minute, you can also take your scrambled eggs to the next level. I also think this pesto pairs well with fresh goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, or even a slab of brie gently warmed on the grill. I hope you enjoy!! Belly up!!


1 pound asparagus, trimmed and coarsly chopped
1/2 cup extra- virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse the asparagus until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, cheese, basil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. This pesto is rustic, but if you would like, you can process the combined ingredients in the food processor to make a more traditional pesto. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Coffee Spice Rub

Ah, summertime. How I love your humidity that makes my hair curl and poof, and how I love your thunderstorms. Summertime is rivaling my favorite season, fall. Summer means dipping my feet in the kiddy pool on our deck, in between weeding the garden and splashing my daughter. Sipping sparkling lemonade in antique lawn chairs, and watching my husband mow the lawn. Slowing down and being lazy. Well, for those of you who know me, I can only slow down slightly. And being lazy usually involves balancing several activities, but it's summer time and we have warmth and sunshine on our side. Most days.

oh how I love you summer time

This forth of July has been rainy, which adds to the slowing down/ laziness factor. A good thunderstorm mid-summer can spark a slew of indoor activities like cleaning, organizing, making chai spiced banana bread and smoking ribs. I don't mind. I'm still wearing a sundress and eating Mexican ice pops to stay cool. The festivities have just moved indoors. With our smoker nestled safely in our garage, it was time to tackle a slab of ribs I had tucked away in the freezer from our last butcher. These ribs are from the Red Wattle pigs we raised, and the meat is red and divine, comparative to beef rather than 'the other white meat' of pork. The smoking process I have yet to wrangle into a science, but the spice rub, I think I've got a good grip on how to handle that.

Inspired by a store bought coffee spice rub, I went to work. I wanted the coffee flavor to really stand out, and I wanted to keep the ingredient list simple- I usually go crazy and the next thing you know, I have a list of fifteen ingredients. Geez! Here's the breakdown;

1 Tablespoon coffee, ground fairly fine
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon chili flakes
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon orange zest

Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl. You will have about 1/2 cup of spice rub. Apply liberally to steaks, ribs, or any cuts of meat about an hour or so before grilling. This mix stores well for several weeks in a sealed jar. If the orange zest seems too moist, spread the spice mix out on a cookie sheet, and allow if to air dry for a few hours or overnight before storing.

Now for those of you who were tuned into WTIP the last time I chatted about food with my favorite hosts, Julie and Mary, Julie challenged me to a vegetarian BBQ. Here's what I've discovered. Every vegetable tastes better grilled. Cauliflower cut into thick 'steak' pieces, sprinkled with the above spice rub and olive oil, and grilled until tender= fantastic. Asparagus and cherry tomatoes hold up to the bold spice blend above too. I have been playing around with our smoker as well, and there are several veggies that are so fantastic smoked, and they take only a fraction of the time of meat, to infuse a great smokiness. Smoked tomatoes are great tossed into your favorite salsa or marinara recipes. Smoked onions are one of the most ridiculous wonders of the world, and should be used in everything.  I think I'll combine smoked onions and blue cheese to stuff into burgers at our next grill out! Belly up!!

keeping it real, pool side.