Monthly Archives:

July 2013

Summer Tomato Basil Cheddar Panini

Summer Tomato Basil Cheddar Panini

In the summer, elaborate recipe creations rarely take place in my kitchen. Really, those fancy, multi-hour-long cooking sessions don’t happen with frequency during any time of the year. (What can I say, other than that I’ve got an impatient stomach and an endless list of hobbies to keep in mind. Both apply not only to summer, but spring, fall and winter too…)

However, its summertime when 3-ingredient meals reach their highest occurrence. Fruit, fruit and nuts  — breakfast is served. Tomatoes, mayo, bread — lunch, no stove needed. Dinner — dare I say repeat lunch? But don’t forget the bowl of peaches, blueberries and ice cream on the side. Or maybe a garden salad with tomatoes/cucumbers/red onion/steamed green beans/beets/carrots/goat cheese/walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette. I know, that’s a lot more than 3-ingredients going into one bowl. But the three steps it takes to get them there — slice, drizzle and serve — and you might as well file it under the same suit. Simplicity at its best.

When garden-fresh ingredients are around, forget having them shaken or stirred, or even always heated. I want them straight-up. There’s no need for complex preparations. A tomato plucked straight from the vine has all the flavor you could ever wish for, and then some.

Summer Tomato Basil Cheddar Panini

If it were summer all year around, I’d have to pull a Rachael Ray. Maybe even out-do her by trimming away 20 minutes and starting my own “10-Minutes or Less” show. Of course that would be pretty boring. “Step one – Wash blueberries. Step two – Eat.”

Obviously I don’t survive off of single ingredients alone all summer long. But I do make a lot of easy dishes like tacos, sandwiches and stir-frys. The kind where all you have to do is put a bunch of veggies with some olive oil/simple marinade on a baking sheet and roast, or in a saute pan, do a quick cook, and let their flavors speak for themselves.

The recipe below is one of my favorites for when tomatoes are at their prime, and basil is up and growing. It elevates my favorite tomato-mayo combo to the next level with the simple addition of cheese and a quick press on a panini maker. Classic and simple, yet totally blog-worthy, considering I could eat this several times a week and still never get bored.

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Summer Sides: Creamed Collards with Fresh Corn

Creamed Collards with Fresh Corn

If there is a time to eat raw corn, it’s in the summer. For the home-grower, you arrive straight from the garden. Your shoes get kicked off, mud washed from your hands, and then barefooted, you head straight back outside. From there, you start tearing. First it’s the rough husk that falls to the ground, then the silky strands that lay beneath.

This was my childhood. If you can’t tell, I’m still a little nostalgic for the days when a backyard existed just outside my bedroom. Especially one with a small corn forrest in its corner.

Currently, as I live out my urban dwelling days, I’m more of a farmer’s market shopper. Although, this too can open up opportunities for raw corn consumption. In this instance, you truck home with a boundless bounty of dinner options, and with no room left in the fridge, Cholula bottles and dirty mugs get thrown aside. A local-grown bag of corn takes the counter-side space. And from there, you get shucking your mid-afternoon snack while dreaming up what to make for dinner.

In either situation, your stomach will be empty, your corn sweet. Summertime is the only time that corn is ever sweet enough, and not too starchy, to eat straight from the cob, no cooking in between. In times of ravenous impatience, fresh corn becomes a luxury.


As I’ve told in recent posts, I’ve been working a farmer’s market every Saturday throughout the summer. After hot mornings spent outside, I generally return home famished, with little desire to turn on the stove. This past weekend proved no different, which left me delving straight into my newly acquired 1/2 dozen of corn. Taking ten minutes to boil water? Get real. I went straight for the raw cobs with little time to waste. Two ears later, I felt alive again, and decided I should really start cooking some of the other produce I left sitting out on the table. Like the collards that were quickly beginning to wilt. I mean…who has time to put greens in the fridge when there’s corn waiting to be eaten? Obviously not me.

I continued on with the raw corn theme, tossing it with some lime and butter to top off this summer side. Feel free, however, to steam the corn beforehand, especially if your cobs aren’t particularly fresh. Either way works to add some sweet crunch to this creamy, but light, nutrient-packed dish. It’s a bowl you can easily pass around at a potluck or friend/family dinner, and an excellent way to get some veggies onto the plate.

Creamed Collards with Fresh Corn Continue Reading…



This summer, I started a new photo project involving veggies and people – two of my favorite subjects to shoot, of course. Once I complete the series, I’ll give you all more details. It will likely take a bit of time, but so far it’s been a blast and I’m excited to eventually share it with you guys!

For my latest shoot, I got a hold of some radishes fresh from the ground, green tops intact. The peppery veggie was and is a truly lovely ingredient to photograph. Stare at one, from tops to tail, and you’ll notice it has so many aesthetic elements to display. Beautiful.

It’s also a rather beautifully unique ingredient in the kitchen, and somewhat of an infrequently utilized subject of my cooking. Which is why I’d love your help.

I think I’ve featured radishes just once my blog, in this Brown Bread with Radishes recipe. Twice if you count them in this Asparagus Feta Wrap, but here radishes really weren’t the main star.

Both are recipes I’ve repeated on several occasions, but this year, I’m looking for new ideas. I’d love to hear how you use radishes. What are you favorite ways to eat them? Raw? Cooked? Sliced, diced, buttered, braised, pickled? You tell me.

Share with me your standby radish recipes. I’d love to hear them. And make them too!

Summer Veggie Breakfast Tacos

Summer Veggie Breakfast Tacos

No, I’m not sick of tomato sandwiches yet. However, I did want to start whipping up some new recipes again. With so much fresh produce in my fridge, it was bound to happen. Creativity strikes when variety is abundant, happily attained through the perks of working at a farmer’s market.

I wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about crawling out of bed before 7 a.m. every Saturday morning to sell vegetables. Bags of summer squash and ears of corn later, the foodie in me has decided the weekly weekend gig is totally worth it. Saturday mornings spent working bring Sunday morning breakfasts. Delicious ones at that.

This past Sunday, that meant these breakfast tacos, filled with buttery yellow squash, vine-ripened tomatoes and sweet corn. Worth it, don’t you agree?

Summer Squash

I love summer because the days the season brings along are rarely ever dull. There are always new ingredients to to be experimented with for wrapping into tacos. There are always new swimming excursions to be found. There is always outdoor fun to be had. My favorite kind, for sure.

Lately I’ve been doing plenty of pool jumping, lots of jacket-less night time bike riding, and occasional ice cream eating. Summer has been treating me well. I wish it’d never leave. Perhaps, one day, my future career path will lead me to an endless warm locale. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad job perk either.

Anyway, I leave you with these Summer Veggie Breakfast Tacos. Although these make a perfect Sunday, late morning meal, they’d also serve as breakfast-for-dinner that can be pulled together quickly any night of the week. Perhaps make them now, and then repeat once the weekend rolls around.

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Blueberry Strawberry Crisp

Blueberry Strawberry Crisp

I said on FoodFitnessFreshAir’s Facebook page that I’m taking a little break from recipe development. When summer’s showering the garden in red, all I want to eat are tomato sandwiches. Nothing fancy. A little mayo, salt and pepper, maybe some lettuce and/or basil. A fresh garden salad thrown on the side, and I’ve found food heaven, within just the 10 minutes it takes to slice, toast and take a first bite.

As Katie from Eclectik Domestic pointed out, this could mean I may never return to developing recipes…Because really, who ever gets sick of tomato sandwiches in the summer? Not this girl. Good thing there are multiple meals in the day. Rest assured, eventually I’ll save the no-cook meals for lunch and start churning out new creations again.

In the meantime, my mom’s holding me over with this killer Blueberry Strawberry Crisp she whipped up for my birthday last week. (Yes, I turned the ripe age of 23! Whatever that means.)

My sister’s been getting into the cake business, making these elaborate trillion-layer cakes at any opportunity she can get. When I turned down her offer to create one for my birthday, she was slightly crushed. It’s not that I don’t love my sister’s dreamy, mousse-filled, icing deco cakes, because I do. But when summer hits, I want seasonal fruit with a chill side of straight up vanilla ice cream. My mom fulfilled that, and then some, with this crisp.

You’ll find that blueberries make up the bulk of the filling, letting just a few, slightly more tart strawberries sweep in to balance out their sweetness. I know strawberries are on their way out, so feel free to use nectarines, peaches or any other suitable, seasonal partner in crime. My mom had some strawberries frozen from an earlier, orchard-picking trip, so that’s what went into this particular pie pan.

Birthday or not, this is a real summer celebration. As are tomato sandwiches. Pair the two together, and you’ll create the picnic party of the year. For real.

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