Make It: Campfire Potato Packets with Garlic Compound Butter

Since I was a kid, the easy dish that my parents would make on weekend camping trips were always Potato Packets.

I’ve improved the recipe by adding the compound butter to the mix, it adds a nice “grown up” feel to the simple camping recipe.

Garlic Compound Butter:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • Garlic salt
  • salt and pepper
  • Fresh chives

Let the butter soften and place it in a small bowl. Add the chopped garlic, garlic salt, chives, and salt and pepper to it and combine. Roll the butter in a sheet of plastic wrap, molding into a log. Let the butter chill and set in the fridge for at least an hour.

 

Campfire Potato Packets:

  • 1 lb of small red or yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 stick of compound garlic butter, cut into slabs
  • Tin foil, preferably heavy duty

Make small packets out of the tin foil, placing about 6 – 8 thin slices of potatoes and about two slabs of the butter per packet. Seal all completely, and place on the grill while preparring the rest of your grilled dinner. If you potatoes are thin to medium thick slices, they should take about 15 – 20 min on the grill to cook fully. Make sure your packets are completely sealed to prevent your summer butter from dripping out.

A super easy side, ideal for fast family dinners.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

 

Make It: Grilled Caramelized Summer Peaches with Whipped Cream

 

Every time I go to a BBQ at a friends house or for a birthday, I notice one common trend: everyone is so focused on the main proteins or the side dish that they forget a key player in the summer line-up. Dessert!

Summer is packed with great fruits like peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Because they are thicker, they can stand up to the heat of grilling and just get sweeter and more delicious as they cook.

Grilled Caramelized Summer Peaches:

  • 3 ripe but still firm peaches, any type
  • 2 tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • Tin Foil, preferably heavy duty

Slice the cleaned peaches in half. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and place face down on the tin foil. Cut the butter into slabs and place in-between the peaches. Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon and sugar over the peaches and butter, and feel free to add more if you like your desserts on the sweeter side. Make a packet out of your tin foil and seal. Place on the top level of your grill so you can cook your dessert while cooking the rest of your dinner.

Serve half a warm peach with a nice dollop of whipped cream, favorite brand of whipped topping, or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Nice, easy, and tasty end to a great summer grilled meal.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

 

Make It: Haricot Verte with Le Herb Butter

If you haven’t already googled it, you might be wondering: what the heck is Haricot Verte? Answer: Skinny delicious French Green Beans!
As far as the bean hierarchy goes, green beans get a bad wrap. Many of us, me included, grew up eating the mashed up, tasteless already cooked canned version as a bland side to the casual dinner of meat and potatoes. This doesn’t exactly inspire veggie loyalty.
However, now that I’m older and have developed actual tastebuds, I am finding new and fresh ways to prepare these babies up that won’t make you run of the hills. In fact, in this case, you might even want seconds. Or thirds.
Le Herb Compound Butter:
  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened to room temperature
  • Fresh Chives
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic salt
Note: You can mix in pretty much any fresh herbs you have around, such as Oregano or Basil. It can only enhance the compound butter. Also, the longer that you let the compound butter sit and chill in the fridge, the more powerful and tasty it will become.
Leave the butter out for at least an hour at room temperature in a small bowl to get it soft and pliable. Finely chop the herbs, sprinkle garlic salt, regular salt and pepper, and mix in with the softened butter. Once combined, clump the butter on a small sheet of plastic wrap and mold into a log, fully covering with the plastic, securing the ends tightly. Let the butter chill and set in the fridge for at least an hour before using. (Nothing could be simpler, or more packed with flavor.)
Open Grill Roasted Haricot Vertes:
  • 1 lb Haricot Vertes, cleaned and prepped
  • 1 stick of Herb Compound Butter
  • 1 small red shallot, roughly chopped
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • Tin foil, preferably heavy duty
After cleaning and prepping your beans, carefully make a square-like pan out of tin foil. Placing all of you green beans on one side, sprinkle the chopped shallots over the top. Finely chop up the chilled compound butter into slabs and spread of the beans inside the tin foil, so when it melts all of the beans will have a chance to be flavored. Toss the beans roughly together and then fold over the tin foil, making a sealed packet. (Make sure all of the corners are sealed to prevent drips.)
Place the foil over the open grill on the second rack, so its not over direct heat and you can cook your meat or bigger veggies on the lower level. If you’re not grilling, you can cook inside a regular oven at 400 for about 10 minutes.
Definitely makes a tasty side dish for any protein or just if you’re feeling bean-y.
Thanks and happy eats,
Lisa

Make It: Strawberry Lemonade (Citrus-ade more like.)

 

It feels like 90 degrees out on my little island and that means: barbequing and homemade lemonade.

Some home cooks like to make the classic lemonade: lemons, water, sugar.

I like to spice mine up a bit by adding all kinds of citrus to further develop and broaden the lemon flavor and add in some fresh fruit. I added in some fresh squeezed orange juice, lime juice, and grapefruit juice to soften the tangyness of the lemons.

Note: If you’re feeling extra naughty or in need of a summer cocktail, both vodka and light rum pair well with this. I ended up adding a splash of Hangar One’s Spiced Pear Vodka to mine and it just made it even tastier.

Strawberry Lemonade:

  • The juice of 9-10 lemons, any kind (I used Meyer.)
  • The juice of 1 large grapefruit. any kind (I used Texas Star.)
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • The juice of 1 orange
  • 1 lb of fresh, ripe strawberries
  • About 1 1/2 cups of sugar (add more to taste.)
  • Water

Half and squeeze the juice of all of the citrus over a large pitcher. It helps if you do this over a medium to fine strainer to catch unwanted pits, seeds, and pulp from going into your lemonade. Cut up your strawberries into quarters, removing the tops. Let them sit a bowl, adding 2 tablespoons of sugar, toss and let them sit for about 15 min as that this brings out their natural sweetness so you don’t end up with sour lemonade. Add water to your pitcher to make it about 1 part juice to 2 parts water, approximately 5 cups of water. Add in your sugar and strawberries. Mix thoroughly and enjoy.

SO refreshing. We added the vodka to taste, but if you want to keep it virgin for the whole family, it is delicious as is.

 

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

P.S. if you want something equally refreshing, check out my easy recipe for Cilantro-Infused Cucumber Lemon water.

BONUS BLOG: Hydrate Like A Champ

Now that summer is the theme of every blog, recipes for flavored water drinks will be contagious.

The classic Cucumber and Lemon combo water is refreshing, a regular in high-end gyms and yoga studios. A nice and healthy addition to making it more interesting: Cilantro.

Cilantro, also known as the leaves of the Coriander plant and a close relative to Parsley, is an Old World herb that has been around since the days of Babylon. Mostly used in Asian and Mexican cooking, Cilantro is a nice and fresh way to add a bit of acidity to any dish.

Because of its known anti-inflammatory properties and positive effects on the urinary tract system, it’s great to add to teas, soups, and dishes to help clean out your system.

“Hydrate Like A Champ” Water:

  • 1 bushel of fresh Cilantro
  • 1 full Lemon, sliced thinly
  • 1 full Cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 2 liters (or about 5 cups) of water

Heat the water in a large pot on the stove. Add the finely chopped Cilantro to the water and steep for ten minutes, like tea. Let the pot cool completely and pour into a pitcher. Add the sliced Cucumber and Lemon, let it marinate all together in the fridge overnight. Drink one glass a day, as a way to hydrate and flush out your system.

Try it for a week; your kidneys will thank you.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Indian Spiced Lentils and Baked Eggplant

Every now and again, I like to eat clean and go veggie. Not to say that I don’t miss the meaty proteins but sometimes, grains are just the way to go.

While shopping for veggies in my local produce market today, I ran across some red lentils. Growing up an almost entirely sheltered American household, I’d never eaten lentils outside of the random bowl of chili. But seeing as that I’m trying to eat a lot of “whole” foods and opt for less unhealthy ingredients, I decided to try some Indian cooking and make Aarti Party’s Mum’s Everyday Red Lentils. And boy, am I glad I did!

Note: I substituted in Powdered Ginger Root instead of fresh ginger just because it lasts longer, and with specialized recipes like this, I always end up with half a ginger root left and it goes bad in the fridge before I get a chance to use it. I figure fresh would be better but it tasted great with the powdered stuff, too.

Mum’s Everyday Red Lentils (otherwise known as Dal):

  • 1 cup masoor dal red lentils, picked through for stones (I used a 1lb bag.)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced (I used 2 small shallots instead, for flavor.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced (or powdered.)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced in 1/2, optional (I opted out.)

Tempering oil (bagaar):

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or bafaat powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Note: Just like when cooking with thicker types of rice, it is really important to thoroughly wash and soak your lentils. The more pliable they are, the more flavor they will soak up while cooking.

Directions:
Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse them under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, if using, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. DO NOT ADD SALT YET; it will toughen the lentils, thereby lengthening their cooking time. Lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, almost translucent, and almost falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Whisk the lentils, releasing its natural starch, and mash some them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt, to taste.

Tempering oil (bagaar): In a small bowl, combine the cumin and mustard seeds. In another bowl, combine the spice powders. Have all the ingredients ready because this will move very fast!

Note: I added as much spice as indicated here but my lentils turned out to be less flavorful than I would like. Next time, I will make sure to double the amounts of spices before I bloom them in the hot oil. Everyone is different, so if you like your food REALLY spicy, I say add more. If you’re weary to take risks with spices, stick to the plan. Everything still turned out yummy.

In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds and immediately cover so you don’t get covered in spluttering oil and seeds! Add the spices. They should sizzle and bubble a little – that’s the blooming and it’s exactly what you want. Don’t let them burn. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, standing back so you don’t get hurt when the mixture splutters again. Stir to combine. Transfer the lentils to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Baked Baby Indian Eggplant:

  • 4-5 baby indian eggplants (you can use the regular size too but the small ones cooked so fast.)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use that to toss with the garlic, I drizzled a bit more before putting in the oven to help them from drying out.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 450, cut your eggplants into thick slices. Toss in the olive oil and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

I placed by baked eggplant on my lentil and even though it was all veggies, I was stuffed when I finished. Healthy and low cal and organic and delicious! Can’t ask for much more!

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Summer Favorite: Lavender Lemonade (the Fakers, the Myths, and the Reality)

Every cute little cafe, and some of the major chains, are offering the big summer fad on their menus: lavender lemonade.

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As the beautiful simplicity of lemonade has made it one of my all time favorite beverages, adding lavender into the mix only makes it better.

As the trend grows, some places make serious yummy improvements to the classic recipe by adding things like grapefruit, lime, or sea salt. While some other places just miss the mark completely by say, oh I don’t know, omitting the one trademark ingredient in lavender lemonade: THE LAVENDER.

I have no problem laying out the customary $4.00 per glass of the yummy cocktail, but I usually expect there to be luxurious lavender flavor in my lavender lemonade.

[cue the rampant, disparaging disappointment.]

That said, I am featuring Martha’s recipe, as well as adding my own flare.

Homemade Lavender Lemonade:

  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup dried lavender
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 cup of sugar (you can add more to taste)

Directions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler (or if you have a microplane), remove zest from two lemons, leaving white pith behind.
  2. Squeeze all of the lemons and your lime for juice and set aside.
  3. In a large pot bring 5 1/2 cups of water and zest to a boil over high heat. Stir in the lavender. Partially cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place a large strainer lined with cheesecloth or a damp paper towel over another pot or heat-proof bowl.
  5. Strain tea, pressing on herbs to extract all liquid.
  6. Stir in honey until dissolved.
  7. Stir in lemon juice.
  8. Stir in sugar, taste and discern if you need more.
  9. Let cool completely, about 45 minutes.
  10. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Note: You can add a sprig of dried lavender when serving if you’re feeling extra fancy.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa