Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce

Sauces are one of those things that seemed hard or mysterious to me. After all, if they weren’t hard, why is buying them pre-made such a prevalent practice, even among those who consider themselves good cooks? Why do we surrender the biggest flavor payload in our dish tos omething that makes a gloopy sound as it oozes out of plastic or glass jars? A few weeks ago when I hosted my late summer BBQ, I decided to make my own sauce and it was really pretty easy.

Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce

Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup organic or reduced-sguar ketchup
  • 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 molasses
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Prep

  • Finely chop your onion and garlic.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat your EVOO. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes until soft.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  • Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes. Keep scrapping and folding the sauce off the sides of the pot and stirring. If the sauce seems a little thin you can simmer for another 2 minutes, but keep stirring and folding so it doesn’t get gooey.
  • Taste the sauce and add a little more salt and pepper, as needed.

The end result should be a crowd pleasing, sticky sauce with a nice balance between sweet, savory, and heat. I personally prefer ridiculously spicy sauces like Famous Dave’s Devil Spit or the Memphis/Kansas City varietals, which are hotter and more vinegary, but this sauce was lovely and hit the right notes for a crowd where you can’t go to far in one direction or another. You know a sauce is great when people lick their fingers instead of using a napkin and I saw a lot of that going on.

~Enjoy the bragging rights for making your own sauce and Nom On

Orgasmic Summer Squash

I wasn’t really sure what the hell to call this dish, but then it occurred to me that everyone rolled their eyes back in their heads at first tasting, so there you have it. Perfect side for a BBQ gathering or if you just want a bowl of rad, this is a fun way to get freaky with those infused oils you see in the store and are never sure if you should buy. I am here to say … BUY THEM.

Orgasmic Summer Squash

Orgasmic Summer Squash

Ingredients

  • 1-2 Zucchini
  • 1-2 Yellow Squash
  • 1 small, White Onion
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes
  • Fancy-pants infused olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Prep

  • Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll out a large layer of foil.
  • Slice your squash up and then halve the slices. Toss them on the foil.
  • Quarter your small white onion. Toss them on the foil.
  • Dump your cherry tomatoes on the foil, too.
  • Now, for the fun part. Liberally pour your fancy-pants infused oil on your veggies. Using your hands, mix them all around to coat in the oil. For my veggies, I used a citrus-habanero infused oil.
  • Liberally season your veggies with salt and pepper. Again, use your hands to mix well. Taste to make sure you have a nice balance.
  • Fold the veggies up into a pocket with the foil and crimp the edges for a tight seal.
  • Place the packet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. I pulled mine out after 20 minutes to check on them and I recommend you do the same. The should be nice and soft by the end, but not mushy.

This is a lovely side and a great way to enjoy seasonal squash from the farmers market and infused oils. Everyone raved about them at my Lammas Day celebration. If you are looking for a light meal on a weeknight, this would also work well because you are getting the fat from the oil and the anti-oxidants from the veggies. A very balanced dish, nutritionally.

~Nom on

Seasonal Berry Compote

Do those gorgeous pallets of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries that are in just about every stall at the farmers market during the summer entice you as much as they do me? They are so pretty! I just get all dizzy with fantasies of mixed berry tarts and sundaes and pies, oh my! But tarts and pies take forever, and lets face it, we’ll probably be too drunk from our sippy-sippy while we cook to finish anything that delicate and time consuming. Am I right? Well, that’s why the good lord invented compotes. Great on sundaes, waffles, pancakes, sponge and pound cakes, or as a side to dip your butter cookies in, the reasons to make a compote are endless. And it’s ok if you are drunk by the time you pour it over pancakes at 10 am. No judgement!

Mixed Berry Sundae

Seasonal Berry Compote

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups mixed spring or summer berries
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (which is approx. 1/2 medium lemon)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp butter

Prep

  • In a small sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and add in the remaining ingredients, except the butter.
  • Return to a boil and stir a few times. 45 seconds boiling, tops.
  • Turn off the heat and add in butter. Stir until fully melted and combined.
  • Using a potato masher, crush berries until you have a nice lumpy sauce. Don’t over crush, just make sure all berries are broken down.

Now that you have your delicious compote, what you pour it on is up to you! It’s lovely served warm on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, etc, but you can also store in a jar in your fridge for a week or so and add to milk shakes and smoothies. It can also work well as a jam on toast and scones, or you can get a little freaky and make a squishy ice cream and compote cookie sandwich with Nilla wafers. Heck if you need to get fancy, make cream puffs, also known as profiterole, and fill them up. We’ll all be impressed.

~Nom your sweet tooth on

Bruschetta Salsa

A staple starter in pretty much every Italian eatery, and most bar and grilles, I think bruschetta get’s over looked. It’s also really easy to make an utterly underwhelming batch; just use off-season tomatoes and dried basil instead of fresh and you will be one sad mac. Here’s how to make it right, and then you can put it on everything!

Bruschetta Mozzarella

Bruschetta Salsa

Ingredients

As a general note, you should shop for all your fresh ingredients at the farmers market for this dish. Good bruschetta hinges entirely on how vibrant the produce and herbs are. Get your toms, garlic, basil, and parsley from the market the day you plan on making the salsa and choose with care.

  • 4 plum, ripe, in-season tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced basil
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh, minced parsley
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 crushed red pepper flakes

Prep

  • Combine all your ingredients and let soak and chill in the fridge for about an hour before you serve.

If you want an elegant, low-carb snack or starter …

pick up a log of fresh mozzarella and slice into small medallions. Arrange a few large basil leaves on a plate, then 3-4 medallions. Spoon the salsa over the medallions. If you have time, make a simple balsamic reduction and drizzle a little over the dish. Magnifique!

Bruschetta Toast

If you want classic bruschetta toast ….

cut a fresh baguette into thick slices. Spread a little butter on each slice and toast to a medium-well. Getting the slices the right thickness and level of crispy is crucial because the salsa has oil and vinegar and it really soaks through the bread. I can’t tell you how many restaurants have blown this aspect and I am left with a soggy mess and a serious case of situational depression.

I like to add a little leaf of basil to eat slice of bread before I spoon the mixture on. It adds color and a pop of freshness, plus it helps slow the pace of the bread soaking and breaking down. If you think the toast will sit awhile because you are setting it out for a gathering, I recommend this.

Again, if you have time to make a quick balsamic reduction, drizzle this on as a finishing touch. Don’t get carried away though. It’s a strong flavor.

What else can I do with this lovely salsa?

Man, it’s almost endless. The salsa is the flavor so if you want a quick, light vegetarian entree, top off some angel hair pasta and drizzle with balsamic reduction. You can make the dish heartier with slices of grilled chicken.

If you want low-carb, grill chicken breasts or flank steak in a garlic butter and sauté some squash. Top the meat with the salsa and serve with a dollop of balsamic reduction on the side for dipping.

Want a fabulous vegetarian burger? Grill up a portabella mushroom, top with a fat slice of mozzarella cheese and the salsa. Serve on toasted wheat buns with garlic butter. Or, if you want to try something fun, make garlic bread and use two thick slices of that for your bun. Dude.

If you aren’t ready to nom on at this point, you may be hopeless!

Sangria: Spanish Red Wine Punch

Red wine drinkers are always faced with a conundrum during the summer: switch to white wine or sweat through their usual glass of chianti. But wait! The Spanish have found the answer to drinking red wine in the heat; make it into a punch and add more booze! Hooray! If you haven’t tried this lovely and refreshing beverage, stop everything and go whip up a batch. The refrigerator does most of the work.

Sangria

Red Wine Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • 1/4 cup of triple sec
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 large naval orange
  • 1/2 large lime
  • 1 sweet apple, like gala or fuji
  • 1 750 mil bottle sparkling water

Prep

  • In a large pitcher, add the wine, brandy, triple sec, and sugar.
  • Squeeze the juice of both the lime and the orange into the pitcher. Watch for seeds.
  • Slice up the orange, lime, and apple into thin slices. Add them to the pitcher.
  • Stir the pitcher to blend all the ingredients and move the fruit all through the solution.
  • Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  • When you are ready to serve, add the sparkling water and stir.

I like to ask guests if they want fruit in their sangria or not. Some really love chunks of fruit in their glass that they can nibble on and some feel like they are eating a booze-y fruit salad.

Now all you need to do is fetch some sort of pool floaty, a bathing suit, and one of those silly sun hats so you can float around and sip away, enjoying the good life.

~Salut, and of course, nom on

BLT Deviled Eggs

What is it about the summer that just makes one jones for bacon, lettuce, and tomato? It’s never not awesome, right? Well, today I decided to stuff it in my deviled eggs and declare it breakfast! Low-carb, of course, if you are looking for an excuse to skip the bread and always appreciated as an appetizer.

BLT Deviled Eggs

BLT Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayo or miracle whip
  • 3 slices bacon, pan friend and crumbled
  • 1 large roma tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
  • 12 small shreds of green, leafy lettuce

Prep

  • Pan fry your bacon strips and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
  • Next, bring a pot of water, about 4 cups, to a rolling boil. Set your timer for 9 minutes and place your six eggs into the water and boil. This is the perfect time for creamy yolks and firm whites that you need for a deviled egg. As soon as the timer goes off, remove from heat and transfer the eggs into a bowl of cold water.
  • Allow the eggs to cool and set in the cold water while you crumble your bacon and finely dice your tomato.
  • Remove the shells of each egg and slice in half.
  • With a small spoon, gently remove the yolks from each egg and place into small bowl.
  • Combine the egg yolks with the mayo and stir until soft and creamy.
  • Fold in the bacon crumbles and diced tomato. Taste. If bland, add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and taste again.
  • Once your mixture is complete, take a piece of lettuce and push into the center of the egg white and then add a spoonful of the yolk mixture. It will heap over because of the bacon. Repeat for all the egg halves.
  • Sprinkle each egg with a little parsley and cayenne pepper for garnish.
  • Chill for at least 10 minutes before serving.

A few notes…

Personally, I think real mayo is nasty. It tastes like fish to me. If your first batch tastes a little ‘fishy’ or off to you, try it with miracle whip next time.

If you like spicy food, you can stir in a 1/4 tsp of horseradish for a kick. If you are unfamiliar with this condiment, there are many layers of heat and style you can buy. They can be creamy or grainy, mild or very hot. You’ll need to experiment, but I think they are all really tasty.

~Nom On

Greek Turkey Burgers

The summer continues and so do my experiments with burgers. Today I made a low-carb Greek burger with homemade tzaziki sauce and it was quite yummy.

Greek Turkey Burger

Greek Turkey Burgers

Ingredients

  • 16 oz ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 oz – 3 oz crumbled feta cheese, depending on how strong you want the feta flavor
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Thick slices of beefsteak tomato, cucumbers, leafy lettuce, and red onion for serving.

Prep

  • Combine the ground turkey, onion, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs together in a medium-sized bowl. Use your fingers and mix well.
  • Fold in your feta cheese crumbles and mix well.
  • Finally fold in your spices. Mix well and form into 4 equally sized patties. Set aside.
  • Heat up your griddle and brush with a little olive oil.
  • Grill the patties for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the patties reach 160 degrees internally. Transfer to a plate and let rest for a couple minutes.

Quick Tzaziki Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1 half cucumber, diced
  • 1 large roma tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep

  • Combine all your ingredients except the salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Add in about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of pepper and taste.

Note: Tzaziki isn’t meant to be salty, it should taste refreshing. This recipe is by no means a traditional sauce, but it’ll get you the majority of that flavor and it’s quick and easy to prep. Some traditional tzaziki sauces can be very garlic-y and if you like that, add in another fresh garlic clove or add a pinch of garlic powder. 

If you are serving this low-carb, arrange the patties on a bed of leafy lettuce and layer on the sauce. Top with a little more feta, if desired. You can serve with thick slices of tomato, red onion, and cucumber dusted with salt and pepper and a dollop of hummus for dipping. I make my sauces with the veggies and toppings basically folded in so you don’t need to add those extra veggies if you don’t want to. The flavors are all there.

~Nom On

Egg and Beef Steak Tomato Salad

I don’t know about you, but I am TOTALLY fighting the middle-aged chub these days. I don’t seem to have the discipline to live on 1200 calories like I used to, not with a 2-year old harshing my buzz. How to keep from totally letting go? Well, I like to do a no-carb meal each day and a no-meat meal each day. This dish nails both, and as a bonus it’s light, refreshing, takes advantage of one of our best summer produce, and it’s delicious.

Egg and Beefsteak Tomato Salad

Egg and Beefsteak Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large, ripe beefsteak tomato
  • 1 heaping tbsp of Mayo or Miracle Whip
  • 2 tbsp large snipped fresh green onion
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh dill
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ground cayenne pepper

Prep

  • In a medium pot, bring water to a rolling boil.
  • Gently spoon eggs into the water and boil for 6 minutes. Set a timer to be precise.
  • When eggs are done, immediately move to a bowl of cold water. Allow eggs to cool down for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove shell from each egg and place in a small mixing bowl. With a fork, mash eggs. Add mayo and mix. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix again.
  • Slice beefsteak tomatoes thickly.
  • Arrange your tomatoes so they cover your plate and dust with salt and pepper. Spoon egg salad over the tomatoes. Dust again with a little salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Sprinkle green onion and dill over egg salad.

You can serve on its own or with a little side of mixed greens and dressing or some cucumbers like I did. Guilt-free breakfast or lunch!

~Nom On

BL Cherry T Bites

Got the taste of bacon, lettuce, and tomato on your mind? I usually do, too. Here’s another way to get the flavor, but without the carbs. Makes a great appetize, side dish, or snack on a hot day.

BL Cherry Tomatos Bites

BL Cherry T Bites

Ingredients

  • 16 large cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Lb bacon, baked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp of creamy horseradish (optional, just if you want these to be a little spicy)
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley, snipped

Prep

  • Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of each tomato.
  • Using a melon baller, scoop out the innards of each tomato and discard. Flip the tomatoes upside down and place on a paper towel to dry.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients.
  • Spoon the mixture equally into the 16 tomatoes and place in a baking dish and cover with lid. Tupperware is another option, just so long as the lid isn’t squishing the toppings.
  • Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

~Nom On

Turkey Spinach Meatballs

Meatballs are one of those versatile dishes that might seem mystifying or hard to make, but they don’t have to be. I will likely post more meatball recipes when we get back to the cooler, fall weather, but a turkey-spinach meatball has the right flavors for summer.

Spinach Turkey

Turkey Spinach Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup herbed or plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 pound ground turkey

Prep

  • Mix the spinach, egg, breadcrumbs, onion, and garlic salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add the ground turkey into the mixture and mix with your hands.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and place a rack inside a shallow baking pan.
  • Shape your mixture into 2-inch balls and place on rack. You should end up with about 14-16 meatballs.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. The center should no longer be pink and you want the internal temp to be about 160 degrees.
  • Drain on paper towels.

Ok, I have meatballs. Now what do I do with them?

Well, to be fair, you can eat them on their own, with a nice cherry-tomato salad or fat slices of seasoned beef steak tomatoes. It’s low carb, super healthy, and perfect if its summertime and you want hearty without the heavy. But here are some other options. My personal creation, Farmer’s Market Soup, is at the very end and also a fabulous option if you want healthy and hearty. Highly recommended as an alternative to chicken noodle soup if you have a household suffering from flu and cold season and your need to nourish them back to life!

Capellini and Meatballs

  • Simmer them in 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Reduce the heat to low.
    (Tip: The sauce can wait, but the pasta can’t. Always make your sauce first and reduce heat all the way down to low.)
  • Bring water to bowl and add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to the water, plus a little salt. Cook the pasta for 4-5 minutes and drain. Only do a very light rinse or you will lose all the oil.
  • Divide pasta and simmering meatballs into four bowls and serve with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper.

Meatball Subs

  • Simmer them in 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut open 4 sandwich rolls; crusty, french rolls from the bakery if you’ve got ’em.
  • Ladle meatballs and sauce into rolls. About 4 meatballs each.
  • Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and crushed red peppers, then top with a slice provolone cheese.
  • Bake for 2-3 minutes at 400 degrees to melt the cheese and lightly toast the bread.

Swedish Meatballs

  • Prepare one package of egg noodles according to directions on package.
  • Combine 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg in medium sauce pan and stir.
  • Fold in meatballs and simmer for about 5 minutes, until sauce and meatballs are all heated through.
  • Pour over egg noodles, garnish with a little fresh parsley for color and serve with salt and pepper to taste. Red pepper flakes can also be offered if your brood likes their meals with a little kick.

Farmer’s Market Meatball Soup

  • In a large pot of dutch oven, add meatballs.Step One Meatballs
  • In a cast iron or stainless steel skillet, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a BUNCH of fresh, chopped squash. There are so many types of squash in season during the summer and many farms just sell medley bags in their stalls with green, yellow, etc. Include one or two peeled and chopped carrots. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until a little tender. Don’t cook them all the way down as they need to survive the soup boiling process. Toss them in the pot with the meatballs.Step 2 Saute Squash
  • Next, in the same skillet, add more olive oil and pop in a head of roughly chopped spinach. If you can find a market stall that sells mixed bags of kale, spinach, and arugula (or other combo of dark, leafy greens) that is even better. Also add in a 1/2 basket of sliced white mushrooms. Sauté these gently, just until the leafy veggies wilt. Add them to the pot.Step 3 Saute Spinach
  • Take a moment to savor all that lovely color. Mmmm….Colorful Veggies
  • Next, add water to the pot, enough to just cover the top of all the veggies. I am guessing this is close to 8 cups. Bring to a boil.Step 4 Add Water
  • When the water is boiling, I add two large cubes of either chicken or vegetable bouillon to the water. This saves you the trouble of using broth (which spoils and is expensive) and adding a lot of salt.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Now, here you have a choice. If you just want a light soup, you can simmer for another 10 minutes and be done with it. If you want a little more bulk to the soup you can return to a boil and either add 4 tablespoons of rice, lentils, couscous, or quinoa to your broth.
  • Simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes.
  • At this point I do a few rounds of taste testing. I try a spoonful and if its a little bland I add salt and black pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon at a time. I just keep stirring, tasting, and seasoning until I hit the ‘oooohhhh yeaaaah’ flavor. This is totally your call.

I serve this soup piping hot in a huge bowl with a hunk of lightly toasted french bread. I also put out crushed red peppers, Sriracha, salsa roja, pepper sauces like Franks or Tabasco, salt, pepper, sour cream, and grated parmesan cheese. It’s a fun soup to doctor up and I like to provide all the options.

~Nom On