Sometimes you need to just chill out…especially when it’s about 100 degrees outside.
This year, I’ve really been trying to be more chill and not panic about little things.
I’m coming along, but I’m not perfect yet.
For example: Last weekend, I was stoked about making a big pot of purple hull peas for my family. I had frozen the peas from my local farm stand from last year, and I was going to throw some bacon in there and even collard greens. Southern feast, right?
Everything was going great until I went to crack in some sea salt and discovered that my brand new Trader Joe’s sea salt grinder had not been screwed in all the way.
Cue to me dumping half of the sea salt crystals (the big, rock-like things) straight into my peas and broth. Also, did I mention that the peas were supposed to kind of be the star of the show at dinner?
One thing that I have not been great at in the past few years is finding good, practical seafood recipes to complete a well-rounded diet.
It’s wonderful living closer to the ocean (and I do love a raw oyster or fried shrimp plate out), but cooking fish can be tricky.
This Red Curry with Fish can take care of all of that. It’s got some nice spice and basically poaches the fish in the red curry stew/sauce.
You may have heard it called slimy or weird or “only good when fried.”
But, today I’m here to give this little green, tasty Ingredient of the Month it’s day in the sun.
Although okra is tasty fried, there are so many other ways to enjoy it (grilled, sauteed, roasted, stewed). It’s the season for okra, so get some when you see some and feel inspired to use it with the ideas below!
Tell me more:
Okra (also known as gumbo or ladies’ fingers) is a traditionally southern plant that is thought to be of African origin and grows well in hot weather. It grows in little, long green pods that have seeds inside, and it is rich in vitamin K and antioxidants.
Where do I buy it:
You can find okra at most farmers markets this time of year (or perhaps your neighbor’s garden), as well as at Asian grocery stores (and maybe your normal grocery store). Look for brightly colored green pods that are no more than 4 inches long.
Today, we’re going to take another trip around the beautiful, fun and tasty Triangle of North Carolina. I hope you’re ready for some fun pit stops.
We finally got to visit this local distillery (well, twice in the past few months). Everything from the fortified wine to the aged rum and the atmosphere are top notch. It’s so worth the trip to Pittsboro to hang out in this idyllic area (and get a tour, some samples and some to take home).
When you order fried shrimp at this seafood spot, you will get a seriously good ton of fried shrimp. Everything is Calabash style, which I guess means a light, flavorful fry on lots of little shrimp. Also, everything comes with slaw, fries and hush puppies, so it’s a whole package of southern seafood.
My husband and I ate at Lantern in Chapel Hill to celebrate our 4th anniversary. Although my whole sea bass was quite delicious, I was overall underwhelmed with this restaurant (from the ambiance to the prices).
We have a new favorite Mexican spot, and it is Virgil’s Taqueria. Go to downtown Raleigh, visit Virgil’s, get some of the homemade tortilla chips and try a fried avocado taco. You will not be disappointed. You might as well try an horchata or jamaica (hibiscus tea) while you’re there, too.
Right next to Virgil’s, you might notice a cute little sandwich shop. And if you’re there during lunch hours, you’ve got to try it out! I loved my sweet potato soup and avocado BLT sandwich.
Memorial Day and July 4th are now officially behind us…and it’s Friday!
What does that mean?
The summer is in full swing, which indicates there’s still time to enjoy refreshing spritzers and cocktails.
Just saying or typing the word spritzer makes me feel fancy.
I think that July and August are the perfect months for some simple cocktails that you can throw together right after you get home from work or for any impromptu friend visits or bbqs.
That way, you can always be prepared to be the best bartender/host or hostess.
Whether you’re into more trendy, exotic flavors or classic citrus ones, then there’s likely a 3-ingredient cocktail for you!
There’s a reason why margs are so popular: They are zesty, fresh and pair really well with a taco (or nachos or just chips and guac). But, there’s no reason to use that mix stuff. Grab a bag of limes at Trader Joe’s or your local Mexican grocery store, some tequila and triple sec and you’re ready to go! Salted rim or not, it’s summer!
My Recipe: 1 1/2 cup lime juice + 1 cup tequila + 3/4 cup triple sec (plus some simple syrup to sweeten it up and ice cubes to cool it down) = a pitcher for a party
Happy 4th of July!
I hope you get a whole day or at least some hours or even minutes of relaxation and celebration in your day. Even if you’re working, would you take an ice cream sundae or hamburger break just for me? That would mean a lot.
In the mean time, I’ve got some grilling tips for those of us who are into that.
- Be safe and monitor exactly how many beers you’ve ingested while being the grill master. By all means, pop open one of your favorite IPAs or perhaps a watermelon lager. But, don’t embarrass or hurt yourself or anyone else.
- Grill anything and everything that is in season right now. I’m talking okra, squash, zucchini, peppers, onions…in addition to whatever meat you’re throwing “on the barby.”
- Make it super easy on yourself by keeping things as fresh and unadulterated as possible. Just brush some olive oil, salt, pepper (and maybe cayenne and cumin) on those veggies and let their true flavors sing.
- Use good mayo and use it liberally. Hate it or love it (and whatever you call it), good mayo can bring that burger to the next level…or even kick your grilled corn up a notch (see recipe below). We use Duke’s around here and are proud to have it. Thanks to Jose and Sons for the inspiration!
On to the grilled corn on the cob.
If you can get your hands on some local corn, then do it and follow this easy recipe for a tasty, sweet and savory side. No soaking, husking or a lot of work required!
I’ve also heard that you can do this same technique in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
*Tap or click on recipe card to enlarge or save.
Homemade saltines and ranch
Boiler Room Oyster Bar in Kinston, NC
I know it may seem crazy, but these light and crispy homemade crackers dipped into herby ranch dip were just perfection. It could have also been that we had just been to the beach or that we were about to eat fresh NC oysters. Or the South African sauvignon blanc. Whatever it was, it was wonderful.
A few weeks ago, we ordered a delivery pizza.
And against our better judgement, we went with a chain spot and chose to try a few “pan pizzas.” We also had them delivered. It was cheap, so nothing could go wrong, right?!
The pizza looked like they had a rough ride on the way over with cheese spilling out everywhere and a sad excuse for a pan pizza. The crust was doughy and maybe unsafe to eat. Yet, we ate it and were sorely disappointed. I guess you get what you pay for, right?
I couldn’t decide if the pizzas were that bad or if we just have better taste now, but I think it was a mix of both.
So, I set out to find a way to make a killer pan pizza for myself…or I just stumbled across this Bon Appetit recipe (via their “foodcast” podcast).
And I’m sure glad I did.
I’m not sure where you’ve been with your dinners as of late, but I’ve been hungry and ready to find something that is healthy, exciting and ready in under 30 minutes flat (or less).
If you’re in the same boat, I’m glad to tell you that there are tons of options out there for healthy dinner ideas.
And, maybe I’ll even start a little series with some of my ideas. We’ll see!
Today, I’m talking about the wonders of roasted vegetables.
Why roasted vegetables, you ask?
- You can roast almost any vegetable (onion, pepper, okra, squash, carrot, potato, broccoli, etc.), and it will be delicious.
- All you need is oil, salt and pepper, and 30 minutes or so in the oven.
- They are so versatile and good with almost any other side or main.
- Roasted veggies are tasty and healthy.
- They can help you get rid of that lingering produce in your fridge.
- These type of recipes are perfect for the summer months when produce is varied and fresh.
Here’s what you do. Get any and all veggies that you have together and slice into almost even slices (but, this doesn’t really matter too much). Then, toss in a large bowl with a few tbs. of oil (grapeseed or olive) and sprinkle with salt and pepper (and any other spices you really like- cumin and cayenne are some of my faves). Put in a 400 degree oven and roast until cooked through and well, roasted, for 25-40 minutes (depending on the veg).
Food can really fool you sometimes.
Things that look like they’re going to be healthy can be anything but (looking at you, fast food salads). And things that look sweet can be salty and salty sweet.
It’s almost fun to serve a little healthy shock with your dish.
Like, for instance, this bean dip.