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Grill baby, Grill.

I love grilling when it is a billion degrees outside, and the thought of turning on the oven or stove is laughable.

I am a firm believer in the charcoal grill. I think it conjures up way more flavor than gas.

The downside of the charcoal grill is obvious… you must plan ahead a bit since it takes so long for the coals to get ready.

But it is worth it my friends, it is worth it.

I am also a firm believer that just about anything can be grilled.

Meat.

Veggies (some of my faves include asparagus, zucchini, onions, potatoes, etc).

Fruit (any stone fruit- peaches, plums, etc. or pineapple).

Breads.

This week, we grilled a pizza. A barbecue chicken pizza to be exact.

And not to toot my own horn, but it was freaking awesome. Toot! Toot!

This recipe was inspired by a gift from the in-laws. They brought us back a dry rub and a bottle of barbecue sauce from a favorite place in Florida.

We have been patiently waiting through snow and rain to bust out these grilling goodies.

I know it is highly unlikely that you will have these particular ingredients, but any grill seasoning and barbecue sauce will do.

We start this recipe by frying up bacon. Nothing wrong with that.

Bacon is one of those ingredients that is better done in a pan than on the grill.

Yes, I have attempted to grill bacon. However, with live flames and grease dripping from bacon- bacon tends to get scorched.

So, I stick with the frying pan.

And by the way, I love a cast iron skillet. Don’t you?

Do you have one?

You need one.

Here is the thing about a cast iron skillet, you don’t really wash it out aggressively with soap and water because it is a very porous pan. So you wipe it down, and the flavor gets trapped in the pan.

Then, whenever you cook something, it has this extra delicious flavor element in the food. It is pretty magical.

Pull out the bacon. And let it set out on paper towels to drain.

Drop in some chopped onion or shallots.

Yep, just drop them into the bacon grease.

Fried onions in bacon grease.

Hello. Lover.

Bacon grease makes everything heart healthy.

OK, that was a lie.

Bacon grease does make everything more delicious. And that counts for something, right?

Chicken tenders.

Cheaper.

Thaws faster (if you are like me, and you store on-sale chicken in your freezer until you need it).

Cooks faster.

Has less weird tendons and whatnot.

Winner, winner, Chicken Tender Dinner.

Give both sides of your chicken a deep tissue massage with your grill seasoning/rub.

 

Set that chicken aside while you get your pizza dough ready.

Now I had a few servings of dough already frozen in my freezer. So, your options for dough- make a big old batch and freeze some.

Or buy a Boboli crust from your grocery store.

Or buy the uncooked pizza dough (I believe is it $1.29) from Trader Joes. It can be found near the cheese and deli meat. This would be my choice if I didn’t have homemade dough.

Give your dough a drizzle of olive oil once it is rolled out.

I also gave mine a little sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper flake.

To the Grill!!

 

Give your chicken a head start.

With a hot grill, using chicken tenders, I needed about 3 1/2-4 min. per side.

Then, I gave them a flip.

 

Once flipped, I slathered them with the barbecue sauce.

 

And then I threw the raw rolled out dough right on the grill.

Your grill MUST be pretty hot still for this to work. If it is only providing a low heat, you run the risk of your dough oozing through the grill grates. I, personally, have never had this happen.

But it could.

 

Keep slatherin’ that chicken.

 

Don’t feed the bears.

This is our beer opener positioned on the fence right next to the grill.

I’ll give you one guess as to which member of our household purchased this bad boy.

 

After 1-2 minutes, give your dough a flip.

Mmm.

Crusty.

 

Pull all of that off the grill, and head back in to the sanctity of your air conditioned kitchen.

Take stock of everything that you shall pile on your pizza.

From left to right, I have monteray jack and cheddar cheese. I only had a teeny amount of cheddar left, hence the pathetic amount. Pepper jack, colby jack, mozzarella or provolone would all be delicious on this pizza.

Next, I have an avocado to slice up, the grilled onions, chopped bacon, a chopped tomato, some crushed red pepper flake, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion and a little more barbecue sauce.

 

Take the barbecue sauce, and use the sauce as your pizza sauce. Slather it all over.

Chop up your chicken and pile it on your crust with the chopped bacon.

 

Then, pile on all the cheese.

March that pizza back out to your grill for only a minute more to melt the cheese.

 

When it looks like this, pull it off of the grill, bring it inside and finish topping it.

 

Add on the rest of your ingredients.

Wowzer, right?

RIGHT?

 

I recommend using kitchen scissors to cut the pizza. It is slightly easier to manage. Pair the pizza with your pickled cucumber salad and a ripe summer peach.

Grilling makes my life.

It is Friday.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

It is a big weekend in our family… my baby sister graduates from college. We are all so proud of her, and I for one cannot wait to see what is next for her.

Our niece also turns one on Sunday. There will be a party and presents and a cake- and a little girl surrounded by love.

Fun stuff all around.

XO,
Leah

 

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I hate to say it.

Summer seems to be winding down.

School started in most of the city this week.

And the days are getting shorter.

The temperatures are more bearable.

I even wore a long sleeve shirt the other morning when I first woke up.

Sigh.

There is a silver lining though.

This time of the year, to me, is optimal grilling season.

Cooler evenings make for more enjoyable nights on the patio. Standing outside cooking in front of a fire is not only bearable, it is delightful.

So, we grill.

And we grill a lot.

And this week, we grilled up some burgers. Turkey burgers, to be exact.

Without further ado, I give you the Turkey Brie Bacon Burger. Mmmm. Mmmm.

This burger is inspired by a Brie stuffed Turkey Burger that Bobby Flay makes.

I changed up a few things and didn’t stuff it, so here is my version.

What you’ll need:

Ground turkey breast, bacon, a green apple, brie, onion, sage, grill seasoning, and some buns or crusty bread.

Confession.

I long resisted the turkey burger.

Something about it seems unnatural.

And not as juicy as beef.

And not as beefy as beef.

Juicy and beefy. That’s how I like my burgers. And my men.

I couldn’t resist.

Sorry.

However, the turkey burger does allow for a burger dinner without the fat content that good old ground chuck provides.

So, I have tested and tried recipes to make the actual patty taste better.

And after much trial and error, I’m happy to report that we have a Winner, Winner, Turkey Dinner!

For the burgers, I use a little tip that my brother gave me for meatballs that seems to be the key in making delicious turkey burgers.

So, first put your turkey (1.3 lb here- for 5 patties) in a bowl, and add in 1 t. of sage and 1 T. of grill seasoning:

Then, do my brother’s magical trick.

Take a big ole white onion.

Or yellow onion.

Or red onion.

Or heck, a large shallot.

I don’t care.

Use a microplane or grater to grate the onion into the meat:

Keep going.

Work up a sweat.

Burn off some pre-burger calories.

Until you have 2-3 T. of grated onion.

Gently mix it all together.

Form your patties with love.

And throw them on the grill.

Now, I assume you know that turkey burgers have to be cooked all the way to well done.

If you didn’t know, now you do.

While you have your grill master (AKA the Main Man) handling the burgers, it is time to get working on the toppings.

I just had an inspired idea.

We should cook some bacon.

After all, this burger is made of turkey breast which is very lean.

And it will be topped with a fruit, for goodness sake!

We deserve some fat and bacon.

Agreed?

Agreed.

Oh Mama.

Me Likey.

While that is frying, let’s pull together our other toppings.

Thinly sliced green apple.

Crisp, tart, cold, delicious.

And a few slices of brie.

I got the double creme kind.

Wowza.

Now, we shall build a better turkey burger.

Take your crusty bread and slice off two pieces.

Put your freshly grilled burger on there.

Top with some brie, bacon, and your apple.

I added a little dijon mustard too.

Now that is a burger.

Dare I say, that is a turkey burger that could stand up and face off with any beef burger.

I guess I do dare say it.

Because I did.

Serve it up with some grilled zucchini and a simple salad of spinach and mango (or any other fruit).

This is juice-drippin-down-your-chin good.

Happy Cooler evenings and Optimal Grilling Season friends!

Faithfully yours in bacon and burgers,

Leah

“Summer, summer, summertime

Time to sit back and unwind”

-The Great Lyricist Fresh Prince

Sometimes I like to start out a post with a thought provoking inspired quote. Like the one above.

You are welcome.

I love, love, love Summer. I don’t even mind the raging heat and unbelievable humidity.

I love the warmth, I love the long days, I love the way I feel a little more alive.

I also love summer produce.

Like peaches.

Mmmmm, peaches.

Is there much better than the perfectly ripe, juice running down your chin, summer peach?

I think not.

So, in honor of summer and the peach, I give you a healthy summer lunch.

This Grilled Peach Summer salad takes about 20 minutes start to finish… even less if you have a gas grill.

Here is what you’ll need for two adults.

Salad: Spinach, 2 peaches, 2 green onions, 1 piece of cooked bacon (if you happen to have it on hand, which I usually do!), 1 tomato, some cheese (I used aged goat cheese- but parmesan would work. But not parmesan that comes crumbled in a can- help me now if that is your parm of choice).

Dressing: 2 T. Dijon, 2 T. vinegar, 6 T. extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper

Croutons: Some bread, oil, salt, pepper

Go light your grill so that we can throw our peaches and bread on there in a bit.

Mmm. Have you ever had a grilled peach? They are goo-ood.

I think we should start with the dressing.

I have this handy-dandy salad dressing container with dressing instructions on it. My mama stuffed it in my stocking one year for Christmas, and I love it. I think it is from Crate and Barrel if you are interested.

Anywho, take 2 T of dijon mustard:

Add in 2 T vinegar (I used raspberry blush vinegar, and it was perfect):

Now, 6 T of olive oil:

Top off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and shake it.

Shake it like you mean it.

Dressing done!

I like it when the salad is ready to go before grilling peaches so they stay nice and warm, so lets do that. Shall we?

Each salad is a couple of cups of spinach topped with a 1/2 of a chopped tomato, a chopped green onion, 1/2 piece of bacon, and some shreds of cheese.

Now we shall prepare the peaches.

Pick a firm peach rather than an super ripe one. You don’t want it smushing on the grill. No one likes a smushed peach.

Smush is a highly technical culinary term.

Cut the peaches into quarters. You should also remove the pit at this point. I would assume that you already knew that, but better safe than sorry.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I was really tempted to eat one at this point.

But I practiced patience and restraint.

And instead I ate an extra peach that happened to be sitting on the counter.

I said I practiced restraint. I did not say I perfected it.

While we are prepping for the foods that are going to be grilled, lets get our bread ready. Two thick slices.

Schmear and schlather the olive oil on the bread.

If you go to culinary school, you learn terms like schmear and schlather, I think.

Sprinkle that with a little salt and pepper.

Lets head to the grill.

Put your peaches and bread on the hot grill.

I think peaches are the prettiest fruit. Well, peaches and strawberries.

Just don’t tell grapes I said that. Or bananas.

I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

Maybe it is the caffeine from an iced coffee surging through my system.

Back to the peaches, let them get some grill marks on the grill for about 3 minutes.

Give them a turn. And the bread too.

3 more minutes on that side. Then one more flip.

2-3 more minutes and then pull the peaches off of the grill.

Bread too.

Slice your peaches and arrange them on your salad.

Cube your bread thus creating croutons.

Toss those on top.

Drizzle with a bit of the dressing.

Oooooh-eeeeeee

That looks good.

It was good.

Want to know the only way to make it even more of a summertime dish?

Serve it on the patio. With a glass of crisp, refreshing, cold Sauvignon Blanc.

And this ding dong on the side:

Happy eating friends,

LW

Sometimes life goes your way, and someone special enters your life.

Meet Chef Michael.

Michael is a dearly beloved friend of the main man and me. We met him a couple of years ago, and since then have had some of our most amazing Cincinnati meal experiences with Michael.

Beyond making good food, he makes for great company.

So, earlier this week we got the call from Michael that we always answer in the affirmative.

“Dinner?”

Um, yes.

Forever yes.

I walked in to his house to this:

And this:

And her:

Can you say man after my own heart?

So, I have some recipes for ya. These are Chef Michael’s recipes- did I mention that this man was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in NYC? ¬†Or that he has served dinner to four presidents, Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, ME (wait, how’d I get on this list?), and the list goes on and on?

Side note: if you ever have the pleasure of meeting Michael, ask him his Nancy Reagan story.

But first a tour of his outdoor oasis. Because when you eat at Michaels, you are eating with some special friends in a special place.

Like Homer:

And Angel Jerry Garcia:

There are candles hanging from trees:

And pretty trellises:

And the biggest basil plant I have ever seen:

And this custom built, angel-guarded charcoal grill:

Thank you, that concludes our very short tour.

Lets cook!

First, if you want one of those cocktails that I’m sipping on, here’s what you’ll need:

Champagne, Peach Schnapps, Berries (sliced strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)

Put some berries in a glass, pour in a little of the Peach Schnapps, and top with Champagne.

Could that be any more simple?

It is as delicious as it is simple. It’s Friday- try some!

For the burger recipe… pay attention. Cause this burger was yum-a-lum-a-ding-dong.

I chopped (yes, I earn my meal- Michael makes me say things like “yes, Chef!”, “whatever you say Chef!”, “I don’t know what happened to that bacon chef!”) a bunch of parsley and one bunch of green onions. Then, I grated an 8 oz block of cheddar. I finished by finely chopping up about 6 pieces of that fried bacon.

Then, I ate another two pieces.

Don’t tell Michael.

I sliced tomato and washed lettuce for toppers.

Then, I sliced up a white onion (1/4 in thick) so Michael could get them ready for grilling with a drizzle of oil:

And some seasoned salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of parsley:

Throw those bad boys on the grill:

Oh, hey there corn. Nice to see ya.

After about 6 minutes on a very hot grill, flip over the onions.

Truth be told, I flipped those onions.

I never said I was an expert at flipping onions. Or grilling.

So, while those onions are grilling lets make some burger patties.

Ground beef (80/20- I’m guessing 1 1/2 lbs), the chopped green onion, the chopped parsley, the chopped bacon, the majority of that shredded cheddar.

Michael added a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a dash of worcestershire (thank you dictionary.com- that word is hard to spell) sauce.

He folded all of the ingredients together and then made patties. You should see this man make a burger patty. He could whip out 6 perfectly formed patties to my one patty. Master.

He gives each one a slap before putting it on the plate. I think it must be necessary to achieve his level of deliciousness, so I say go for it!

Now, to the screaming hot grill. Just about 3 minutes on each side.

Oh hey there fellas. You are doing a great job in all of that smoke.

I’ll just be over here snapping pictures.

You know, away from the smoke.

Go inside and build your burger.

Man, oh man.

The sign on Michael’s back door speaks the truth:

The weather this weekend in Ohio is looking pretty darn perfect.

I say pour a glass of berry champagne and fire up the grill!

Happy Friday,

Leah

I love fish. Not the looking at them or swimming with them or the keeping of them in an aquarium… rather, the eating of them.

I was well into adulthood before I realized I really loved the creatures of the sea.

For dinner.

The best part about fish is that it is pretty simple to prepare, and it is usually very good for you- WOO!

So one night last week (when Brad and I were on a tight timeline- we had to get to a sand volleyball court by 7 after a full day at work) I ran to the fish market to grab me some tuna.

I frequent this little shop about 3 miles from my house where fish is delivered twice a day. I have consistently had a good experience.

Until, I went to buy this tuna. The two fifteen year old yahoo boys working there have never served a customer prior to me. I’m sure of it.

And I’m certain they have never filleted a fish before. So, please ignore the three (even though I wanted two?) strangely shaped tuna fillets.

The tuna was looking good though. Bright red (no brown- DO NOT BUY if it is at all brown) and smelling like the ocean NOT a stinky fishy smell.

Anyhow, this may just be the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted. Tuna is so, so delicious. And honestly, it is hard to screw up.

For two people, you’ll need two chunks of tuna (ideally- not three hacked up pieces), about 1/4 c. of sesame oil, 1 T. black sesame seeds, 1 T. white sesame seeds.

Now, take a brush and coat the fish with the sesame oil.

Now, sprinkle with the sesame seeds to coat.

Aaaaaannnnnndddddd, thats the preparation. I told you it was stupid easy. Now, lets grill!

I must take a firm stand now.

Quality tuna (yellowfin, ahi, bluefin) should be eaten rare.

I will negotiate with you if that skeebs you out too much- you may cook it to medium rare.

If you find it necessary to cook it beyond that, I really wouldn’t recommend this recipe. It won’t be good.

Promise.

So, for rare- which means seared on the outside, and pink and cool in the center- I do each steak (1 1/2 in. thick) on a hot grill for about 2 minutes max on each side.

For medium rare- which means seared on the outside, and pink and warm in the center- I would do each steak on a hot grill for about 2 1/2- 3 minutes on each side.

Please don’t judge my frozen spinach and half an orange side dish. I told you I was in a hurry.

The tuna made up for it. I only got one not too great picture of what the inside should look like because I was anxious to woof this bad boy down.

Oh, sweet Mary. Yes.

Served with a little wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce.

I’m not sure life can get better.

Nope, I don’t think it does.

Yours in creatures of the sea making your mouth and belly very happy,
Leah

I don’t know why I only discovered fish tacos in the past couple of years.

That feels wrong in so many ways.

Because they are so delicious.

I understand that some people don’t really groove on fish. But, you should try this anyway. And if I can’t talk you into eating creatures from the sea, you could substitute chicken.

But I wouldn’t.

Because the fish is delish. Har. Har. See what I did there?

Here is what you need:

So, I’m just using tilapia from the freezer section in the grocery store. It is cheap, convenient, and perfect for an after-work dinner because they don’t take long to defrost.

However, any flaky white fish will do.

For the main man and I, I used three filets (each about 1/4 in thick).

For the marinade, you’ll need a lime, some cilantro, a jalapeno, extra virgin olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.

Put some of that oil (1/4 c.) in your marinade bowl.

Now, zest your lime. Just the green part. The white part is the opposite of delicious.

Now, lets use the rest of the lime. Juice that bad boy.

Chop your jalapeno. Don’t touch your eyeballs.

Chop up 1/4 c. of cilantro. I love cilantro. So, does the man in my life.

I think that is why our  marriage works. That, and that alone.

Throw the jalapeno and cilantro into the bowl.

Here’s what you should be looking at. It is a little thicker marinade.

Pretty, non?

Now, we shall marinate. If you are using thin fish fillets like a good soldier, cover with the marinade and stick in the fridge for 30 minutes.

The lime will start to cook the fish if you marinate much longer.

If you are a rebel, and you are using chicken, you may marinate the meat longer.

Now is also a good time to get your grill goin’.

While the grill is heating up and the flava is soaking in to the meat, we shall prepare toppings.

I like some pico (I told you I use this stuff ALL the time), an avocado sliced up, sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a super simple cabbage slaw.

Here’s how I make the slaw.

You only need a bit of slaw. I would say a 1/2 cup for 2 people.

Chop up the cabbage. Put it in a small bowl. Squeeze in half of that lime.

Now a drizzle of the olive oil- a teaspoon.

And a sprinkle of coarse Kosher deliciousness and pepper.

And mix it up. And done.

Now lets grill some corn on the cob AND our fish. The fish, because it is so thin, cooks quickly. Like 2 minutes on each side.

Finish grilling, and lets make a TACO. Yes! Yes! Yes!

I toasted my tortilla just for a second. I like it warmed up a bit. Then I use my fork and flake all of the fish a part.

Then, I pile on the slaw, avocado, sour cream, pico, and a little extra fresh cilantro.

Top it off with a squirt of fresh lime.

Fold ‘er up.

And stick it on your plate with some corn and fruit salad.

Can you see those blackberries in the fruit salad. They are huge!

Want to see?

HUGE, I tell ya. And yummy.

So, the tacos are and forever will be a hit.

Look.

This one really wanted to be a proper dinner guest.

She tried extra hard to get a morsel.

Those etiquette classes are paying off.

And this one too. She doesn’t care that she’s not invited to the table to sit. She’s quite happy catching anything that flies off of the table.

Please make these tacos. Your life will be unfulfilled if you don’t.

It really will.

Lots of love,
Leah

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