Mexican Street Corn Chopped Salad

Mexican Street Corn Chopped Salad

My favorite summer salad! This Mexican street corn chopped salad is inspired by my favorite food truck snack. And, it’s made entirely on the grill so you don’t have to heat to house up by turning on the oven. Top crunchy romaine with grilled bacon, peppers, corn, and scallion, add pinto beans and cotija cheese, and drizzle with a chili lime vinaigrette!

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Grilled Spring Vegetables with Miso-Lime Dressing

Grilled Spring Vegetables with Miso-Lime Dressing

This is such and easy and delicious side dish for Spring! To make grilled spring vegetables with miso-lime dressing, throw seasonal vegetables on the grill, then drizzle with a probiotic rich dressing! Feel free to use the same dressing on other seasonal veggies.

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Miso Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Sriracha Mayo

This miso grilled chicken sandwich with sriracha mayo is a flavor bomb of spicy, smoky, and fresh flavors!

The past few months, the hubs and I have been hard at work FINALLY landscaping our backyard after living in our house 5 years. So far, we've got a new brick patio, a simple (aspirational) vegetable garden, and coming soon...more grass than weeds! Once he makes me the farmhouse table I've been dreaming of and we figure out how to get rid of all the mosquitoes, we're good to go for backyard grilling parties. I was outside covered in bugspray for only 30 minutes and got bitten 36 times!! If zika is in South Carolina, I'll let you know soon.

I just looked back at my most recent recipe posts and realized everything I've shared has either been grilled or Asian food. Whoops! Didn't realize I was in such a rut! Well with this post, I'm getting all the Asian and grilled food out of my system then I promise I'm moving on to something new with a yummy Mexican appetizer on Thursday!

This sandwich is a major flavor bomb. It's spicy, smoky, crunchy, creamy, fresh and umami - basically all my favorite things! When the backyard is finally done, I think this may be our inaugural meal :)

Miso paste is one of my favorite pantry staples. It's a condiment made by fermenting soybeans to create a salty, savory paste. It's also a great source of those beneficial probiotics that make your tummy happy. There's so many other uses than miso soup (although miso soup is quite delicious!). Whisk into marinade like I did for this chicken, use it to make a glaze for roasted vegetables, blend into vegetarian dishes for umami flavor, or whisk into dressing for a probiotic boost.

Miso Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Sriracha Mayo

Serves 4

Ingredients

Chicken: 

  • 2 large chicken breasts or 4 thighs (about 1 lb total)
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Sandwich: 

  • 8 slices whole grain bread, toasted
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 of a cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sprouts or microgreens

Sriracha Mayo: 

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a zip top bag and pound flat with a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness
  2. Whisk together miso, sesame, soy sauce and ginger. Pour marinade into the ziptop bag with the chicken. Place in the refrigerator and marinate 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Oil grates of the grill and heat grill on medium-high heat. When hot, grill about 4 minutes per side until lightly charred and cooked through. Remove to clean plate and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Toast the bread. Whisk together the mayo and sriracha. If using chicken breasts, cut each in half. Top the bread with avocado, cucumber slices, grilled chicken and sprouts. Drizzle with sriracha mayo and top with other slice of bread. Serve immediately.

More summer recipes for grilling: 

Grilled Chicken Burrito Bowl with Homemade Guacamole
Grilled Chicken Burrito Bowl with Homemade Guacamole
Grilled Zucchini and Guryere Panini
Grilled Zucchini and Guryere Panini
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip with Tahini
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip with Tahini

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burger

This classic grilled portobello balsamic portobello mushroom burger packs a flavor punch from an overnight marinade! Pop on the grill for a summer vegetarian main. 

Happy July Fourth! We celebrated the holiday a day early on Saturday, so today we're spending the day working out in the backyard, which we're finally landscaping after living in our house the past five years. But if you've still got some celebrating in you, it's not too late to run by the store, grab a few portobello mushroom caps and get them marinating for a flavor packed vegetarian meal!

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burger

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps

  • 4 whole grain hamburger buns

  • 1 tomato, sliced

  • 1/2 cup guacamole

  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. In a large zip top bag, mix together balsamic, olive oil, garlic, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Add portobello mushrooms and toss to coat. Refrigerate 8 hours to marinate.

  2. Heat grill on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and grill four minutes per side until grill marked and tender. While mushrooms are grilling, lightly toast the buns on the grill.

  3. Serve portobello burgers on the bun with tomato slices, guacamole and feta.

Grilled Chicken and Peach Kebabs with Honey Mustard Glaze

Grilled chicken and peach kebabs with honey mustard glaze would be perfect for your Fourth of July cookout! 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Heavenly Organics. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Avocado A Day possible! 

Happy (almost) Fourth of July!

I hope you have some exciting plans for the weekend. We'll be spending the day poolside. Yay for friends with pools in their backyard! Perks of adulthood ;)

July Fourth is one of my favorite holidays, I think because I associate it with with reunions and friends. Growing up, my dad threw a big backyard pool party for his college fraternity buddies every year on the fourth. It was really cool to see a group who had been friends for so long go out of their way to consistently see each other every year. The idea of using the fourth as an excuse for a reunion has always been appealing to me. I'm happy to say that's what we've done for most Fourth of July celebrations since college and I hope to keep the tradition going well into the future!

And of course, the food is just the best. There's the perfect ratio of rich and decadent dishes and fresh, bright summer flavors. There's always smoky ribs or hamburgers and gooey macaroni and cheese. But there's also perfectly ripe summer fruit salad (never with bland honeydew for filler!), and juicy spears of grilled corn on the cob. It's balance, holiday style!

For today's Fourth of July friendly recipe, I am SO excited to be partnering with Heavenly Organics to highlight their incredible honey. I'm always excited to share delicious things with my readers, but I'm even more excited when those delicious things come from a company that is doing so much good in the world.

Heavenly Organics was started over a decade ago by Amit Hooda, who grew up near a conflict zone in northern India. The experience stayed with him, and as an adult, he wondered what he could do to help eliminate conflict in these areas. With the help of his father, a renowned agronomist, he created Heavenly Organics, makers of high quality raw honey, cane sugar and the yummiest chocolate honey patties. They help small farmers in conflict areas in India support their family, while preserving sustainable, traditional farming methods. Their business model is all about promoting peace by bringing profit. How cool is that? Today, Heavenly Organics supports over 600 family farmers with a goal to increase to 5,000 farmers in coming years.

Plus, their honey is seriously incredible. If you've only tasted what comes out of that little brown bear, you are in for a treat. Their honey comes from naturally occurring, wild beehives found in remote areas making it exceptionally pure. The neem honey (which I used) is rich and robust, while the acacia honey is fruity and herbal, perfect for lighter dishes. Because the honey is kept raw and only lightly filtered rather than the heated, ultra-filtered honey you usually see on the market, their product still contains live enzymes, pollen, vitamins and minerals. This means it's more flavorful and it maintains it's antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Oh, and how pretty is their package?

For July Fourth, I wanted to create a delicious grilling recipe that highlights summer produce and let's the flavor of Heavenly Organics honey shine through. Here in South Carolina, we have the absolute best peaches in the world. While they're perfect fresh and raw as a snack, their sweet and tart flavor is a tasty addition to grilled chicken kebabs. Also, I think you'll love this honey mustard glaze! If you make a lot of fresh salads or snack on crunchy raw vegetables, you'll want to make extra to use as a dressing.

To connect with Heavenly Organics Honey:

Istagram: Heavenly Organics

Facebook: Heavenly Organics

Grilled Chicken and Peach Kebabs with Honey Mustard Glaze

Serves 4

Ingredients

Marinade: 

  • 1/4 cup Heavenly Organics neem honey
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Kebabs:

  • 1 1/4 lb chicken breasts
  • 3 peaches
  • 1 red onion

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Cut the chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Scoop out about half of the honey mustard into a small bowl and reserve for serving. Toss the chicken breast cubes in the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, spray grill with oil and preheat on medium high. Cut peaches in half around the pit then cut each half into 6 chunks. Peel onion and cut into 3/4 inch chunks. Alternate skewering onion chunks, peaches and chicken on a metal skewer or wood skewer soaked in water for 30 minutes.
  3. Place kebabs evenly on the hot grill. Baste top with remaining marinade from chicken. Cover and cook five minutes. Carefully flip and cook 3-4 minutes more until chicken is cooked through. Serve with remaining honey mustard.

More Honey Recipes:

Honey Kefir Coconut Ice Cream 

Honey Kefir Coconut Ice Cream 

Roasted Strawberry and Coconut Popsicles
Roasted Strawberry and Coconut Popsicles
Honey Bourbon Barbecue Tempeh
Honey Bourbon Barbecue Tempeh

Grilled Shrimp in Pil-Pil Sauce

Celebrate #120DaysofSummer by dining al fresca with this recipe for grilled shrimp in pil-pil sauce, a garlic and chili infused olive oil. Pairs perfectly with Santa Rita sauvignon blanc.

Disclosure: Thanks to Santa Rita wine for sponsoring this post as part of their #120DaysofSummer campaign. As always, thanks for supporting the brands that make Avocado A Day Nutrition possible. 

Five years ago when the hubs and I got engaged and we were just delving into wedding planning, I asked him what was important for him at our wedding.

He replied with two requests. "I want an 80s cover band, and I want to surprise you with our honeymoon destination at the wedding."

So, I turned over honeymoon planning to my fiance, the man who hadn't really traveled until we started dating and had never actually planned a trip before. Gulp.

When it was finally our wedding night, after the speeches, everyone gathered round to hear Scott announce our destination. Of course, he couldn't just come out and say it but had to taunt me with a lengthy speech filled with clues before announcing. The first clue - "After all the hard work Rachael has put into planning this wedding, I know she's going to need a drink. So the first few days of our honeymoon will be spent in what was named the best wine valley of the year."

Naturally, my mind jumped to visions of France and Italy and California. I was excited, but hoped to go somewhere more unique that I hadn't been before.

But my guesses were wrong. We were flying to Chile the next day!!! (<-- !!!!!!!!!!)

Chile was right near the top of my dream vacation list, but I had no clue it was such a famous wine producing region. We spent the first three days of our honeymoon touring it's most famous wine valleys - Colchagua, Casablanca and Maipo - sipping wine and enjoying really incredible food.

So when I started planning a recipe to pair with Santa Rita wine, one of the most well known brands and high quality brands from Chile, I knew I wanted to recreate one of the dishes we enjoyed on the trip. I immediately thought of an incredible meal we had in Santiago where we split woodfire oven baked goat cheese, spicy Chilean mashed potatoes and a giant clay bowl of tender hake cheeks in pil-pil (garlic) sauce. Instead of using hake cheeks (I don't think they sell that at Whole Foods), I swapped local shrimp, since shellfish is a natural pairing with their sauvignon blanc.

And wouldn't you know, when I looked back at my travel journal from the trip, as it turns out, we actually had a bottle of Santa Rita wine that night! How crazy is that? They were running a special promotion all over Chile that week promoting various Chilean wines by offering a bottle to take home with every bottle you ordered at restaurants. Umm, can we get something like that back in the States?

One thing we learned is that Chilean wines offer great quality for the dollar - something with taxes makes wines from Chile less expensive to buy Chilean wines in the States, so now Chilean wine is most of what we purchase!


Grilled Shrimp in Pil-Pil Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp, unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons grill seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup Santra Rita Sauvignon Blanc

Instructions:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat
  2. Toss shrimp with grill seasoning and olive oil. Season with salt if the grill seasoning does not contain any. Let marinade 15 minutes. 
  3. Skewer shrimp on wood or metal sticks. Grill shrimp a couple minutes per side until no longer pink. Remove from grill and set aside until ready to use. 
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and smoked paprika. Cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds. And wine and cook for 1 minute, then turn of heat. Stir in shrimp and combine with sauce, then serve. 

Chicken Burrito Brown Rice Bowl Bowl with Homemade Guacamole

This chicken burrito brown rice bowl with easy homemade guacamole is the perfect clean out the fridge meal, made with frozen corn and peppers, salsa, and a little leftover cheese!

Hi guys! Apologies for no new post on Monday. I'm kinda a scatter brain with all the travel I'm doing this month. Also, after 8 hours driving back home from Virginia after being away for over a week, quality time with the hubs > glancing at my to do list.

Anyway, thought it would be fun to share a recap of my week up in Virginia/DC with you all, since I packed a lot of friends, good food and work into the trip. My trip to Virginia was half social/half work. The first weekend was my little brother's finance's bachelorette, then the end of the week, AlexAnne and I were getting together to wrap up work on our Joyful Eating program. Since my dad and stepmom live outside DC, I packed up the pups, hit the road and used that as an excuse to work remotely for the week!

The bachelorette party was an absolute blast! I didn't know any of my future sister-in-law's friends before this trip and I had such a blast getting to know them and hanging out with my SIL more, since we've never been in the same city. We rented a row house in Capitol Hill and there was a ton of fun places to go out nearby. Friday we had really tasty dinner at Smith Commons (lobster fried quinoa for the win...) before going out. Saturday, we attempted to be mature and do a walking tour of DC, but really we just ended up taking dorky pictures with the souvenir vans, waiting in a really long line to pee at Washington Monument then giving up and getting bottles of Cava with strawberries at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Hey, we tried!

Dinner at Smith Commons
Dinner at Smith Commons
Touring DC!
Touring DC!

Before heading to my parents in Virginia, I visited two of my friends to see the new house they bought in DC just a couple days before. We ate breakfast at The Royal, this really cute coffee shop with latin inspired breakfast options. Their egg arepa with avocado and chimichurri was super tasty but super messy - glad my friends don't judge! Afterwards, we walked around their neighborhood and they indulged my love of historic homes by dropping in an open house, where we pretended to be the kind of people who could afford a 1.9 million dollar home (ahem, we can't). Also, stumbled across this clearly haunted stunner - anyone want to invest a few million into my opening a B&B in the city? Anyone??

The rest of the week was pretty packed with work. Was hoping to see a bunch of my friends from home, but I completely lost my voice over the weekend. Wish I could say it was from having too much fun but I had a sore throat from allergies on Friday and it just got worse and worse all weekend! Since we were recording the audio lectures for our online intuitive eating program, I ended up having to cancel a few virtual appointments, which I felt awful about since I've never canceled appointments before, but I needed the voice rest. Still, I managed to squeeze in a visit with one of my two best friends from high school and her curly headed cutie! Can you get over these ringlets??

One Wednesday, Anne, Alex and I launched our 6-week online intuitive eating program, Joyful Eating, Nourished Life then spent Thursday and Friday wrapping up the program. It was so great to see each other in person again versus google hangout. Thursday we worked from my parents house so my dad could play instagram dad and take pictures of us for the website - poor guy was a trooper! Then Thursday we worked from Anne's house in Arlington, stopping for an extended lunch break with a really tough yoga class at Edge Yoga followed by salads at Sweetgreen. If only they would come to Columbia!

After a TOUGH yoga class
After a TOUGH yoga class
Salads at Sweetgreen! Mine was the umami bowl with baked tofu, quinoa, spicy sunflower seeds and more!
Salads at Sweetgreen! Mine was the umami bowl with baked tofu, quinoa, spicy sunflower seeds and more!

As we were going through last edits of our program, I couldn't help but get SO very excited for how wonderful it's turned out! We were able to squeeze in so much information about intuitive/mindful eating, sustainable nutrition strategies and enjoyable fitness in a usable, but not overwhelming way. We're really pumped about the number of signups so far, so if you're hoping to join the first group starting June 20th, be sure to sign up soon because we might actually reach our cap (knock on wood!).

Here's a sneak peek at our photo shoot:

Over the weekend I took it easy since it had been a pretty hectic week. I visited with one of my best friends from high school who was also my roommate for a couple years at Clemson for a walking date. She had just gotten engaged a couple weeks before so it was fun to celebrate! She's one of the absolute kindest people I know so was thrilled to see her so happy! Then for Mother's Day, went out to brunch at Silver Diner with my dad and stepmom. We used to hangout there in high school and get burgers and fries, so I was really impressed that the menu had become so locally focused with a ton of flexitarian options, like my roasted vegetable huevos rancheros.

Now on to the recipe. This burrito bowl was (obviously) inspired by the bowls at Chipotle. People always ask me what food I get when I'm on the road and if there's a Chipotle nearby, it's always a brown rice bowl, usually with their sofritas (tofu) or chicken. But it's such an easy dinner to make at home too. While this one took a bit longer with the marinated meat and homemade guac, it can be super simple. Just top precooked brown rice with canned black beans, salsa, cheese, sautéed frozen peppers or spinach and a dollop of store bought guac. If you know how to prepare plantains, that's also a really delish topping!

Chicken Burrito Brown Rice Bowl Bowl with Homemade Guacamole

Serves 4

Ingredients

Chicken: 

  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Guacamole:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

Burrito Bowl:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 1-lb bag frozen peppers and onions
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • Cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, first prepare rice. Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup rice to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 40-50 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then stir in chopped scallion and fluff with a fork.
  3. Next prepare guacamole. Scoop fresh out of the avocado and into a bowl. Add lime juice, cilantro, and red onion. Add salt and mash with a fork to combine.
  4. Heat grill on medium high. Place chicken cubes on a skewer. Grill about 4 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet. Add corn and cook until corn is lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from skillet, wipe clean, and add 2 teaspoons oil to the skillet and heat. Add peppers and cook until tender and lightly charred, about 7-9 minutes. Remove from skillet. Season both with salt and pepper.
  6. Divide rice between bowls. Top with chicken, corn, peppers, a healthy scoop of guacamole. Top with cheddar, cilantro and drizzle with salsa verde.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Red Wine Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EntertainandPair #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Red Wine Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

This grilled vegetable platter served with a red wine tomato jam and caramelized onion buttermilk dip, both infused with Dreaming Tree Wine, is the red carpet version of your standard raw vegetable platter! 

Admit it. You've been that person who brings a raw vegetable platter to the party in an attempt to have a healthy option for everyone to enjoy.

Except, no one actually enjoys that raw vegetable plate. Some eat it because it's there, but who has ever left a party saying "Wow! That baby carrot dipped in ranch was amazing! I wish Susan would share her recipe!"

No one. Ever.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Two Wine Infused Dips

This awards season, give your standard raw vegetable platter a red carpet makeover. My secret for a vegetable platter people will actually want to eat? Grill (or roast) the vegetables first, adding a caramelized, smoky flavor, and serve alongside a couple tasty, homemade dips.

Usually I do some type of hummus or avocado-based dip, but for this campaign, I decided to experiment cooking with Dreaming Tree wine...and I think I found two new favorites in the process! Both get a deep, rich, and luxurious flavor from a base of caramelized onions infused with Dreaming Tree wine. The jammy notes of Dreaming Tree Crush, a red wine blend, went perfectly in the tomato jam, adding a layer of fruitiness and complexity. For the buttermilk dressing, I went with Dreaming Tree chardonnay. Now, normally I'm not a chardonnay person. Actually, I rather despise chardonnay, which is why it was the only Dreaming Tree wine I hadn't tried. But I thought chardonnay's buttery flavor would go really well with the caramelized onions over the crisp, more acidic everyday white (which I love for sipping!). So glad I picked it up though, because I discovered I really like their chardonnay! Like, a lot! It's aged in both stainless steel and oak barrels, so it's not overly oaky and cloying like the other chardonnays I've tried.

Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip with Dreaming Tree Chardonnay
Red Wine Tomato Jam with Dreaming Tree Crush

As a long time fan of Dreaming Tree Wine, I was particularly excited about the project. As an even longer time fan of Dave Matthews (high school flashbacks!), who launched Dreaming Tree with winemaker Sean McKenzie, I picked up a bottle almost as soon as it launched and it's been a favorite ever since. Outside of the flavor (Crush is my favorite) and high quality for a reasonable price, I really appreciate their commitment to sustainability. It's a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery and has the largest solar initiative in the wine industry. The wines are even packaged sustainably, using less glass and a recycled label.

Dreaming Tree Wine

Considering we're smack dab in the middle of awards season, I think you'll have plenty of opportunities to whip this up. Usually I'm not big into award season, but this year, we've kept up with most of the nominees and I definitely have my favorites...which I won't share, because after they win I like to say "I knew it! I totally called it!" ;) So, I'm thinking we may have people over to watch and put out this grilled vegetable platter along with a selection of cheeses and crusty bread. Although this might seem like more effort than a premade vegetable platter, leftovers can easily be stretched into meals during the week. Serve the leftover vegetables in a grain bowl. Leftover buttermilk dip is perfect in my collard green salad with cornbread croutons or your favorite simple side salad. The tomato jam would be so tasty served over roasted fish or a grilled steak, or even on a sandwich. And of course, the leftover wine is perfect for sipping and pretending to be fancy during your very own awards party! 

For more inspiration on how to #EntertainandPair, head to their website. Be sure to check out your local retailer for wine tasting demos! What are your favorite red carpet bites, and which Dreaming Tree Wine would you like to pair it with? 

Keep up with Dreaming Tree Wines:

Grilled Vegetable Platter

Use any fresh vegetables you like. I used cherry tomatoes (on a skewer), cauliflower florets, halved baby zucchini, mushrooms and green beans. If you prefer roasting, toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven until golden and tender.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh vegetables, trimmed, and cut into 'serving' pieces
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Red wine tomato jam & caramelized onion buttermilk dip, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Set grill to medium high. Spray vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook until lightly charred, but still crisp-tender. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.

Red Wine Tomato Jam

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup Dreaming Tree Crush or other rich, fruity red wine
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium pot. Add red onion and garlic and saute until starting to get golden, about 7 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and continue to cook over medium heat until deeply caramelized, tender and almost jammy looking, about 40 minutes.
  2. Pour in wine, scraping up the bottom with a spatula. Add tomatoes, balsamic, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until very thick and jam-like, about 15 minutes total. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dreaming Tree chardonnay or other richly flavored white wine
  • 1 cup buttermilk, low or full fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic. Saute until starting to look golden, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and continue cooking, stirring every so often, until onions are deeply caramelized and jammy in appearance, about 40 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up bottom of the pan with a spatula, and cook until wine is almost completely reduced and the onions are very jammy in appearance, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, scrape onions into a bowl, and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. When onions have cooled a bit, stir in buttermilk, olive oil, parsley, vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more if desired.

Grilled Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa

Inspired by two of my favorite foods from Georgia, this grilled peach and vidalia onion salsa is great by itself, served over fish or on a salad. 

When I was seven, I moved to Atlanta from Brooklyn. It's funny now to think back on my memories of the move. My parents told me we had a slide in the backyard and a pool, so naturally my seven year old brain interpreted it as a waterslide. I was pretty distraught when I found out it was just a regular old slide and a regular old pool. Although I quickly got over it when I realized "OMG WE HAVE A SLIDE AND A POOL!" Although we had a house in Brooklyn, the whole neighborhood concept was very new and very exciting to me. Like, I'm allowed to play outside without an adult present? What is this craziness??

Being the food lover that I am, my strongest memories are of experiencing Southern food for the first time. In New York, we were constantly exposed to new cultures through food, so moving to Georgia was no different. We excitedly dug into a bags of boiled peanuts, explored nearby barbecue restaurants and learned to eat cornbread that didn't taste like cake.

This recipe is a bit of a tribute to those first memories of Southern food. I remember my remember my mom looking everywhere for Vidalia onions, a sweet onion only grown in Georgia. When she finally found them, she roasted them whole so we could enjoy the unadulterated taste. I don't know if I ever ate a peach before moving to Georgia, and although I now know South Carolina grows the best peaches, it was pretty exciting to try peaches for the first time in the peach state.

This salsa is great as a dip with tortilla chips, but there are many other ways to enjoy it. Here's some ideas:

Grilled Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa

Adapted from Root to Leaf, appropriately written by an (amazing) Atlanta chef.

Ingredients

  • 4 firm-ripe peaches
  • 1 sweet onion, preferably Vidalia
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat grill on medium-high heat. As the grill heats, cut the peaches into halves, removing the pit. Peel the onion and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place peaches and onion in a bowl, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread peaches and onion evenly on the grill, cut side of peaches down. Cover and cook 5 minutes until peaches have grill marks then remove. Flip the onion and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. When cool enough to handle, chop peaches and onion into a rough dice. Place in a large bowl with jalapeno, lime juice and basil. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Grilled Pork Tacos with Charred Eggplant and Tomatoes

These grilled pork tacos with charred eggplant and tomatoes are pretty epic, definitely worth a little extra work on a weekend! Enjoy with a cold local brew and good friends! 

A couple weeks ago was the week of the taco. It was awesome.

It all started when we spent the day sailing with friends on the lake. While we were out on the boat, my friend Chelsea told us her grand idea of opening a taco stand at our local farmers market. Environmental lawyer by week, taco connoisseur by weekend? I doubt she'll ever go through with it, but we still had fun dreaming up taco combinations! After a day in the sun, drinking and talking about Mexican food, what did we end up getting for dinner? Tacos and fresh margs. No big surprise.

Later that week, I took the day off to go wedding dress shopping with my family for my sister-in-laws wedding. When appointments ran late and our stomachs were rumbling, you know what they asked for? More tacos! BBQ shrimp and veggie tacos with extra guac for the win!

You would think at this point I would be sick of tacos. But apparently that's not physically possible, because what did I cook for dinner the next night? These pork tacos.

This recipe was adapted from one in Smoke, a James Beard award winning cookbook that teaches the art of cooking with fire. Like, real fire. As in, lets build a firepit in our backyard. It's legit. It's also one of the prettiest cookbooks I own. Most of the recipes aren't exactly weeknight friendly (grilled creole shrimp cocktail with pickled relish vinaigrette made from a combination of four different homemade relishes and a homemade horseradish Tejano red sauce anyone?). But they're beautiful, inspirational and most can be easily be simplified. It's a great gift for any grill lovers in your family - I know the hubs was set on building a pit for oyster roasts in our backyard after thumbing through it!

The original recipe called for waaaay more oil, like three cups (!!!). The pork was essentially confit. I love a good confit, but I'm also more than happy to let a real chef do it for me. I also used a leaner cut of pork. If you prefer shredded pork over cubed, I would use a fattier cut, like a pork shoulder. Also, I know the eggplant and tomato may seem like an odd choice for a tacos, but trust me on it. If you're really not into it or you want to save time, serve it with preshredded cabbage instead.

Because I'm a wuss, I cooked this on the grill instead of a backyard firepit. But, I did it in a cast iron skillet on the grill, so maybe that earns me a couple bad ass points?? If you're a bigger weenie than me, you could also cook this indoors with a Dutch oven or make life even easier with a crockpot! Simply sear the pork, add the citrus-beer mixture and let it simmer until tender! It might be missing some of that smoky flavor, but I bet the citrus-beer flavor would be more pronounced.

Grilled Pork Tacos with Charred Tomatoes and Eggplant

Serves 6 (2 tacos each)

Adapted from Smoke.

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 lbs pork loin roast
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 12 ounce bottle of IPA beer
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 4 sprigs of oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 6 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Feta or cotija cheese, crumbled, for serving
  • Salsa verde, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together minced garlic, curry, smoked paprika, chili, brown sugar, cumin, cayenne and salt. Rub the pork all over with the spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  2. While pork is marinading, mix lemon juice, orange juice, beer, garlic, shallots, oregano and bay leaves in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. When ready to cook pork, heat the grill to medium-high heat. Place a large cast iron skillet on the grill to heat. When hot, add olive oil. Sear pork in the olive oil, cooking 2-3 minutes per side, until browned all over. Add the citrus-beer mixture, reduce the grill heat to medium-low, and cover grill lid. Cook covered, about 30-45 minutes until pork is tender, cooked through and sauce is reduced. Carefully with an oven mitt, remove and set aside to cool slightly, pork still in the skillet.
  4. While pork is resting, turn the heat up to medium-high. Spray the grates with olive oil. Season the tomatoes and eggplant with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on the grill, tomatoes skin side down, and cook with grill lid covered, about 5-7 minutes until charred on one side. Remove tomatoes from grill to a plate and set aside. Flip eggplant and cook 5 minutes on the other side until charred and tender.
  5. As space becomes available on the grill, lay the tortillas out flat to lightly char. Remove to a clean plate.
  6. When ready to serve, remove pork to a cutting board. Slice into 3/4-inch cubes. Add back to the sauce and toss to combine. Season with salt if needed.
  7. Divide eggplant and tomatoes between the tortillas. Top with pork then garnish with cheese and salsa verde.

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip with Tahini

Summer's best produce stars in this recipe for grilled eggplant and zucchini dip with tahini. Perfect for serving with toasted whole grain pita!

And so it begins: The Summer of the Squash.

Earlier this Spring, Scott came home with twenty squash seedlings, leftover from a community garden project at work. At first I fought him when he wanted to plant all twenty, knowing squash reproduce like rabbits, but then I remembered we kill everything we plant, so I let the boy have his fun.

Two months later, we could essentially cure a small developing nation of nutritional deficiencies with our backyard garden.

Good thing I really like squash.

Since you're about to see an ungodly amount of summer squash on the blog this summer, I figure now's the time to talk about why consuming ungodly amounts of summer squash is a good thing.

Summer squash are in the cucumber and melon family and were first cultivated in Mexico and Central America, where they were referred to as part of the "three sisters" alongside beans and corn. Yellow squash and zucchini are commonly found in the grocery store, but if you explore the farmer's market, you'll find heirloom varieties like pattypan (perfect for stuffing...coming soon!), zephyr, eightball and limelight. If you're growing squash in your garden, don't be like me and forget to harvest it for a few days - although the massive footlong zucchini are hilariously fun, they tend to taste woody and bitter compared to the more tender squash harvested around 6 inches.

Summer squash are a very good source of a wide variety of nutrients - folate, vitamin C, B6, copper, magnesium, and potassium to name just a few! It's also a good source of fiber with 2.5 grams in a cup, much of that fiber coming from pectin, which is especially beneficial for blood sugar control. Also, because you eat the seeds in squash, you get a little dose of omega 3 fats. Who knew!

Because I just can't bring myself to toss anything that came from our backyard, I've been working squash into as many meals as I possibly can. My breakfast for the next 3 months will likely be some variation on this shredded sauteed squash with basil (also from the garden), goat cheese and a fried egg. For diner, I've already made stuffed squash and more zucchini side dishes than you can imagine. And for snacks, I've been obsessing over this grilled vegetable and tahini dip. You could use almost any vegetable you like in this, as long as it's grill-able. Try peppers, mushrooms, onions or tomatoes. I do like the including an eggplant, since it's creamy texture makes it more dip-like. Serve this with whole grain pita, ak-mak crackers or tortilla chips.

Now, I'd like to offer a special for Columbia area clients. Sign up for coaching sessions with me this summer and you get a free bonus - a giant basket of zucchini!! Come get while the gettins' good!

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip

Feel free to use other vegetables like mushrooms, peppers or onion.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2-in thick
  • 2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and each half cut into 4 spears
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Spray or brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread vegetables evenly on the grill and cook 7-10 minutes on one side. Flip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side until tender and lightly charred. Remove to a platter and set aside to cool.
  3. While the vegetables are cooling, make the dressing. Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and parsley, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. When vegetables are cool enough to handle, dice and place in a large bowl. Pour in dressing and stir to combine. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

You might also like:

Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Sauce
Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Sauce
Grilled Zucchini and Ricotta Pita Pizza

Grilled Zucchini and Ricotta Pita Pizza

Grilled Mexican Zucchini Boats
Grilled Mexican Zucchini Boats

Cedar Plank Trout with Asian Guacamole

Move over salmon! Get your omega 3s from this wild cedar plank trout with Asian guacamole, plus, learn what makes wild trout is a Good Mood Food. 

Almost weekly, my husband pesters me to open my own restaurant. I don't know much about the restaurant business, but I do know enough to know that I have zero desire to do such a thing.

Then every so often, I come up with a dish so perfect that I think to myself "maybe he's on to something!" This is one of those dishes. Fatty trout soaks up delicious flavors from the cedar plank and smokiness from the grill. Guacamole spiked with Asian flavors from ginger, lime, mint and cilantro adds a burst of fresh flavor and creaminess. And I'm pretty proud of the lemon glazed roasted radishes with pea shoots I came up with on a whim. I'd happily spend $25 on this meal.

Speaking of happy, the omega 3 packed trout in this dish is, you guessed it, a good mood food! There's probably no nutrient more intensely studied for it's role in brain health than omega 3 fats. If I had to name a number one food for mood, without a doubt it would be omega 3 rich fatty fish, like wild trout.

Since WWII, the rate of depression has increased 20-fold. Hmm, isn't that about the time real foods took a back seat to margarine, Swanson frozen meals, and cheez whiz. Coincidence? I think not. When processed foods went mainstream, intake of omega 3 fat declined dramatically.

Omega 3s in fatty fish affects the brain in many ways. All cell membranes are made of fat, but the only polyunsaturated fats the cell membranes in the brain can use are DHA (a type of omega 3) and arachadonic acid. The DHA fats create a more fluid cell membrane, improving brain functioning. Omega 3 fats also reduce inflammation in the brain and increase brain volume.

Studies have shown countries with the highest intakes of fatty fish have the lowest levels of depression. We also know people with depression have low levels of omega 3 fats in their blood. There's been many studies showing omega 3 fats can reduce symptoms of depression. 

So you may be thinking why not just take a supplement? While omega 3s are great, there are many other brain boosting nutrients in fatty fish. One 3 ounce serving has almost 100% your daily needs of B12. A deficiency in B12 has been linked to depression, irritability and cognitive decline and it's estimated that 40% of people have suboptimal levels of B12 (considered a deficiency in other countries). Wild trout also packs a dose of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, also thought to be the culprit behind seasonal affective disorder. Almost 75% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

While I love salmon, the go to choice for omega 3 fats, I actually prefer trout, which is semi-local (North Carolina) to us. The taste is pretty similar to salmon, so feel free to swap out wild Alaskan salmon if that's easier to find. If you want to keep things local, my gulf coast friends could easily use shrimp!

Cedar Plank Trout with Asian Guacamole

Serves 4

Feel free to use any fatty fish you like, or try this with shrimp. Leftover guac is great as a dip with brown rice crackers.

Ingredients

  • 2 cedar planks, soaked in water at least 2 hours
  • 1 lb wild trout filets, cut in four pieces
  • 1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Asian Guacamole: 

  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Set half the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Drain the cedar planks and arrange the trout filets, skin side down, on top. Brush with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill on the opposite side of the heat source, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove and set aside.
  3. To make guacamole, place all guac ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed and well combined. Taste and season with more salt or lime juice if needed.
  4. Serve trout with a heft dollop of guac.

Lemon Sesame Roasted Radishes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches radishes, leaves and stems removed, radishes halved or quartered if large
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Pea shoots (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, oven safe skillet on medium high heat. Add radishes and saute about 5-7 minutes until lightly golden. Move to the oven and roast 10-15 minutes until browned and tender.
  3. While radishes are roasting, whisk together garlic, lemon zest and juice, honey, red pepper flakes and sesame seeds in a small bowl.
  4. Remove from oven and place back on the stovetop on medium high heat. Add sauce and pea shoots if using, stir to combine. Cook 2-3 minutes until glaze is thickened.

Inspired to eat more fatty fish? Check out these recipes:

Sushi Un-Roll With Smoked Salmon and Avocado
Sushi Un-Roll With Smoked Salmon and Avocado
Mayoless Tuna Salad, Three Ways
Mayoless Tuna Salad, Three Ways
Taandori Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Taandori Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Camping in Blue Ridge & Campfire Potatoes, Veggies & Halloumi

A recap of our weekend hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge mountains, plus, a vegetarian campfire recipe for potatoes, veggies and halloumi cheese. 

You may have noticed the lack of a Sunday Paper this past weekend. That's because I spent the weekend camping in the Blue Ridge mountains with Scott (and Charlie!) to celebrate our third anniversary and my 31st birthday. Each year for our anniversary, we take a mini-trip somewhere in the South in lieu of trading gifts. The first year it was Asheville and last year it was Charleston.

Now just so you know, this was no "glamping." We did legit camping - tent, sleeping bag, peeing in the woods - the whole shebang. Okay, so there was a $40 bottle of wine involved, but other than that we were roughing it! Especially when the temps dipped into the twenties at night and we only packed our lightweight sleeping bag...thank goodness for a 135 lb Saint Bernard to spoon with.

After setting up camp on Friday, we hiked in Graveyard Fields to see both the waterfalls. Back at camp, we enjoyed our bottle of wine and a yummy campfire meal (recipe follows!). I was planning on making these halloumi and vegetable skewers from Naturally Ella, but we realized we left Scott's mini-grill at a friends house right before we left. So, we wrapped everything up in aluminum foil and threw it in the fire! I know this is my second zombie apocalypse reference in less than a week, but let me say, with my campfire cooking skills, you'll definitely want to protect me in the event!

The next day we woke up early and did some more hiking are Moore's Cove and to Skinny Dip Falls (no, we did not skinny dip, pervs). After spending the morning hiking, we decided to head into Asheville. We enjoyed a flight at Green Man Brewery and split a cubano from Melt Your Heart. Then we took Charlie on a walk around downtown, where he quickly became a local celebrity. At one point, we had 15 people surrounding him - to think that some family gave him up boggles my mind! We had an awesome dinner at my absolute favorite brewery on the planet, Wicked Weed, then closed out the night back at camp, enjoying the campfire and a slice of Theos olive oil chocolate cake from French Broad Chocolates! 

Keep scrolling to enjoy some of the pictures of our trip and get my recipe for campfire potatoes and veggies with halloumi cheese.

The Lower Falls and Graveyard Fields

The Lower Falls and Graveyard Fields

Waterfalls at Graveyard Fields

Waterfalls at Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields Blue Ridge Parkway

Graveyard Fields Blue Ridge Parkway

Upper Falls in Graveyard Fields

Upper Falls in Graveyard Fields

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah

Hiking to Moore's Cove

Hiking to Moore's Cove

Moore's Cove Waterfall

Moore's Cove Waterfall

Skinny Dip Falls Blue Ridge Parkway

Skinny Dip Falls Blue Ridge Parkway

Dinner at Wicked Weed Brewing

Dinner at Wicked Weed Brewing

Campfire potatoes, veggies and halloumi

Campfire potatoes, veggies and halloumi

Campfire Potatoes, Veggies & Halloumi Cheese

Serves 2 hungry hikers

Simply make packets of the ingredients and toss it over the fire. If you have a grill, feel free to make kebabs or put the packets directly over the grill. Our campsite had a metal grill pan that went over the campfire. If you don't have one, just make sure the vegetables are in a cooler part of the fireIt's best if you can keep it slightly If you can't find halloumi, a type of Greek cheese that stays firm when heated, swap feta. It won't stay in chunks but it'll be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, quartered or cut into eighths

  • 2 large zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks

  • 1 large red onion

  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 10 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Garlic powder

  • Smoked paprika

  • Salt and black pepper

  • Plenty of aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Spread a large piece of aluminum foil on the ground. Add the potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the aluminum foil so it's sealed then shake to combine. Throw it into the fire.

  2. Make another packet with the vegetables, season the same way and throw into the fire with the potatoes.

  3. Make another packet with the halloumi, omiting the olive oil. Throw it into the fire.

  4. The potatoes and vegetables will be done in about 10 minutes. If you need to peek, use a clean stick or long fork to open the packet a bit and give it a good stir. The cheese only needs a few minutes to warm.

  5. When vegetables and cheese are cooked, open and pour the cheese and it's juices over the potatoes, then enjoy!