Summer is the best. It’s the best for a lot of reasons, but my first second and third reasons are all one word: outside.
Being outside makes me happy in ways that being inside does not. I like to be in pools and sitting beside pools in equal measure, and I enjoy farmers’ markets, grilling and dining al fresco. It stays light out later than 4:00 p.m. and I don’t have to arm wrestle Henry into a coat in order to take him outside for .3 seconds to do his business before he bolts back inside.
This is not to say that I enjoy nature in all of its forms – for example, I would not like to go camping because allegedly, you have to do your #2 in a hole in the ground.
No thank you.
Since I have little of relevance to tell you about sitting by a pool or going to the farmers’ market to buy cheese and croissants (because isn’t that why everyone goes to farmer’s markets?) I would like to talk about what we’ve been grilling.
These should also be called the easiest barbecue ribs ever because I made them, and I didn’t ruin them. Look you guys, I’m good at making food taste good and mixing flavors that magically work together, but I’m no award-winning barbecue pit-master.
These ribs slow cooked in the oven for about two and a half hours and we finished them on the grill, where we slathered them in barbecue sauce and ate like no one was watching.
The name of this recipe should really be “so many herbs, so little sauce.” Because you will pack your blender or food processor full of delicious leafy green fresh herbs and you will wind up with about 2/3 cup of chimichurri sauce.
It turns out though that good things come in…2/3 cup packages. A little of this flavor-packed sauce goes a long way, and it was delicious a a steak condiment but would also work well on any grilled protein, veggies or even atop an omelet. Gimme.
It takes a lot for my boyfriend to tell me to put a recipe in the rotation and keep it there.
But that is what he said about this grilled bourbon chicken.
I want to believe that it isn’t because the sauce is loaded with sugar and booze.
That would be a lie that I am telling myself.
Pro: if you make this on Sunday for the week, you’ll have recipe that really will yield lunch for four days. And it tastes good.
Con: you won’t be able to actually eat lunch for the next four days, because that’s about how long it takes to make every single component of this recipe. By the time you’re finished cooking this, and it’s going to take you about 18 hours, you might not want to look at a chicken tzatziki bowl.
If you are a professional cook, it might take you less time, in which case, go big.
If you are so time-starved, like me, that you need to cook once to eat lunch all week long, there’s no shame in buying pre-cooked quinoa from the Whole Foods salad bar, topping it with all the chicken and veggies you want, and buying this yummy tzatziki sauce to throw the whole thing together in your workplace kitchen.
There, I gave you inspiration and four hours.
Let me be clear about something: these are neither Thai food, nor are they tacos, but they do blend a bunch of tasty flavors and make something tasty that actually is fairly quick and easy to make.
I served these without half of the recommended toppings for two friends, and there were minimal leftovers – it’s a great light dinner for a summer evening when you don’t want to fire up the grill.
When you do want to fire up the grill, and you should because if you are like me you and live in a city where seasonal affective disorder lasts three seasons, you should be firing up the grill to make shrimp boil foil packets.
This recipe is summer in a foil packet.
I made these without the butter (I substituted olive oil instead) and we skipped the brown butter entirely because if you use fresh shrimp and corn, and perfectly spicy andouille sausage, you won’t miss the extra calories.
Ina Garten’s Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Ina, I apologize right now if you think that I’m stalking you.
Brad’s mom made these recently when we went to his parents’ house for dinner, and then made the mistake of giving me the recipe shortly thereafter.
I’ve since made these roasted tomatoes so many times that it might be inappropriately creepy. Brad doesn’t love tomatoes, so I make them any time we are having friends over, going to someone’s house and need to take a dish, or eating dinner solo for whatever other reason.
I’ll share my own version of the recipe soon.
Spoiler alert: it’s the same recipe but I’m going to put it here, in a different post, because that’s just what the world needs to look like.
Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad
This was a last minute addition that I brought to a cookout menu a few weeks ago. I was making the roasted tomatoes (because, of course I was) and decided that what I really needed was another dish that Brad wouldn’t like.
See, on this particular night, our friend Jason was making slow cooked pulled pork, slow smoked brisket and pork ribs.
I was not worried about Brad disliking the side dishes I made, he wasn’t going to know that there were even side dishes at the party.
As it happens, these are the perfect pairing to skirt steak with chimichurri sauce.
Last week, Brad and I had dinner with our neighbors, one of whom is an amazing cook. They planned to bring fish and veggies to grill, along with copious amounts of wine, and I thought that steak and potatoes would be a perfect way to round out an otherwise healthy menu.
The potatoes didn’t exactly “smash” evenly, so I grilled these on a baking sheet on the grill to keep the potatoes from falling through the grates.
Potentially not the most elegant way to grill potatoes, but it worked and they were tasty, especially with a topped with a little chimichurri sauce.
Even though we already talked about corn, you’re getting it again. Super easy side dish that comes together quickly and works well with any grilled protein.
And that is about all I have to say about this one.
I know it’s a little late in the season to be messing around with strawberries, but I can and so I am. These strawberry shortcakes are the perfect way to end any of the aforementioned summer meals (except for the grilled chicken tzatziki bowls because you’ll be too tired after the hours in the kitchen).
My favorite part of this dessert was easily the strawberry whipped cream — and any leftover biscuits are great with breakfast the next morning.