What we’re eating now

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What we're eating now

This edition of “what we’re eating now” captures the spirit of family and seasonal favorites. The concise list covers lots of bases, so you can quickly scan for anything that may appeal and access the recipe with a quick click. (BONUS: I’ve included an extra printable recipe that turns zucchini into something crisp and delicious along with a few recent family photos!)

 

 

 

Last week was an exciting week around here! On Wednesday, Christian had his first day of school — he’s officially a high school senior. (I’m still wondering how that’s possible!) On Thursday, John got home from his summer term at college. (His college requires all students to do a “sophomore summer.”) Happily, his return was just in time for my Dad’s surprise 85th birthday dinner on Friday! 🎉

Dad’s birthday dinner was just family and it was so special. (In the photo above, he’s pictured with three of his grandchildren after successfully blowing out the candles.)

John’s return trip home will be fairly brief, so I’ve been focusing on his favorite meals and keeping the kitchen “experiments” to a minimum. At the same time, I feel compelled to pack in all corn on the cob, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, etc., while they’re so fresh and flavorful.

Ok…so he did get a little help with the candles. 🎂⇩⇩

So here’s what we’ve been eating lately with hopes that you may enjoy, too.

 

Perfect for easy family meals and entertaining:

Classic Crispy Top Mac & Cheese was dinner on Christian’s first day of school, which happened to be the night John returned from school. For the gluten-free adaptation, click here. I have served the GF variation so many times (it’s the same recipe with a few easy tweaks and tips) and people are always shocked when they find out it’s gluten-free!

The high reward of Easy Grilled Sausage, Pepper & Corn Dinner most definitely belies the low effort that goes into it. It’s a crowd-pleaser that makes the most of summer produce and can be customized to taste. (Perfect for a Labor Day cookout, too.)

I could serve corn on the cob every night of the summer and my family might not complain! They love the leftovers, too, especially when I use them in Succotash Salad and Mexican Street Corn Salad.

If you’ve never had Cornell Chicken, I recommend putting it on your to-do list before the grilling season comes to a close. Perfect for casual cookouts, the intoxicating aroma while grilling is reminiscent of the classic roadside barbecues. Pair with one of the corn salads linked above (or corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes). Leftovers are fantastic and make for easy, no-cook nights in the week ahead.

Light but filling:

As evidenced by the old photos, I’ve been making  Southwestern Chicken Quesadilla Salad  for many years. It’s actually one of the ways I got my boys to enjoy the concept of salad when they were young. I focused on bigger pieces of the vegetables I knew they liked and slipped in small pieces of lettuce. The easy, cheesy quesadillas add oomph and hand-held appeal (although I like to cut mine up and mix in with the salad!)

My kids adore these Sushi Bowls, and there’s no raw seafood in this filling version of the classic sushi rolls.

John is also a particular fan of the sweetgreen copycat recipe Guacamole Greens Salad, which he calls Guac Greens. It’s a light but filling summer meal.

Breakfast:

We’ve been making all sort of egg sandwiches, avocado toast and breakfast bowls, and I have some new recipes to share in the weeks ahead in this department. To ensure we always have something quick to grab, I’ve been making these overnights oats in bulk. After multiplying the recipe, the only change is that I don’t add the fruit when prepping. Instead, I transfer individual portions to bowls for serving and top as desired. Lately our toppings of choice include chopped peaches, blueberries, Lolita’s low-sugar granola, toasted slivered almonds and sometimes a drizzle of melted peanut butter.

Desserts:

Cuppa Cuppa Peach Cobbler -This has been a seasonal family favorite for many years, although if a major craving hits in the off-season, the recipe also works well with drained canned peaches. It’s perfect for last-minute entertaining (quick and easy), and my dad considers it a coffee cake equivalent (i.e., acceptable for breakfast!).

Carrot Cake with Almond Flour -Despite the fabulous taste, it’s actually pretty darn healthy and gluten-free. If you’re a carrot cake fan you must try. If you’re not, you may convert! Pair with a classic buttercream icing for a memorable birthday or celebratory cake.

Recipes from other sources that I’ve tried recently:

  1.  I’d never cooked tempeh, so felt compelled to try for some time-and finally did. First, for those who may not be familiar, tempeh (pronounced “tem-pay”) is a rich source of vegetarian protein made of fermented soybeans. It has a firm texture and nutty flavor.

I prepared this marinated and baked recipe from Minimalist Baker, which is quite easy. The Asian peanut marinade is quite flavorful, and after baking the tempeh, the remaining marinade can be used as a sauce. The verdict on the actual tempeh was somewhat mixed: the flavor was good, but the texture was a little mushy. My vegetarian sister says that tempeh is a bit of an acquired taste, and she usually pan fries it to make it as crispy as possible.

   2.  And this recipe from Molly Yeh is basically a roasted potato salad with a mouthwatering paprika-infused, mayo-based dressing. I made half the stated amount of dressing and still used just over half. Any leftover, however, is delicious on macaroni and tuna salad, burgers-and we used it once as a delicious dip for steamed artichokes (which we often make a meal of).

 

Bonus recipe!

We’ve been eating our fair share of zucchini this summer, much of it in the form of zucchini bread (and this one for chocolate lovers-both are healthy!), zucchini noodles with easy pesto, and the following zucchini “fries.” I’ve served these delectable bites for many family dinners as well as a quickly-devoured appetizer. The crispy coating makes eating vegetables a true delight, and the advance prep option provides added convenience.
Baked Zucchini Fries-The deliciously crunchy coating on these zucchini spears is baked, not fried and you won’t miss the oil one bit.

Baked Zucchini Fries

Yield: 6 servings
The deliciously crunchy coating on these zucchini spears is baked, not fried and you won’t miss the oil one bit. (Dare I say, you may enjoy these every bit as much as traditional French fries!) A fun way to enjoy this garden favorite, the advance prep option makes this recipe even more appealing.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 zucchini (about 1½ pounds total)*
  • 1 cup seasoned panko crumbs** (may use gluten-free panko)
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup flour (may use an all-purpose GF substitute)
  • 2 large eggs***
  • For serving: marinara sauce, sriracha mayo, ranch dressing or your favorite dipping sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425℉. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. (Alternatively, you may line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Using a rack provides more crispness, however, as the heat can circulate all around the zucchini.)
  2. Combine the panko and Parmesan in a shallow pie dish. Place the flour in a zip-top bag. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl wide enough to fit the longest spear. Set aside.
  3. Cut off each end of the zucchini, and then slice horizontally once or twice, depending on the length of the zucchini. (This will be the length of your “fries”– I aim for about 3 inches – and find it easier to uniformly slice into spears when not having to control the blade along the entire length of the whole zucchini.) Now slice the cut segments lengthwise into ½-inch strips, and then slice those strips lengthwise into ½-inch spears. However you do it, the goal is fairly uniform spears that are roughly a ½-inch wide and about 3 inches long. Don’t worry about skinny or pointy ends because of the rounded sides; these will get a little extra crispy, which is good!)
  4. Add the zucchini to the bag with the flour and toss zucchini to evenly coat. Working with one spear at a time, shake off any excess flour, and then coat in the beaten egg. Allow any excess egg to drip off, and then roll in the panko mixture to fully coat. (Tip: I use one hand, keeping the other clean. I also find it quicker to drop the egg-coated spear into the panko mixture and then, with my clean hand, use a spoon to help toss the crumb mixture over the spear.)
  5. As you coat the spears, place them on the prepared rack, leaving a bit of space between them. (Tip: Try not to move the spears around once you’ve set them on the rack. The only time I have trouble with sticking is when I start reorganizing, as this seems to wipe away the oil.) Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly golden. Add a sprinkle of salt, if desired, and serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce.
Notes

*Small to medium zucchini work well because they don’t have the somewhat spongy, seedy core typical of really big zucchini. That said, any size zucchini may be used. (I’ve tested – those spongy centers work; the finished texture is different but still quite good.) Just don’t start with more than 1½ pounds total, as you’ll have trouble fitting all the spears on one baking rack and may need another egg.

**If you have unseasoned panko, simply season to taste with salt, pepper and dried Italian herbs.

***I’ve tested with whole eggs and the equivalent amount (½ cup) of egg whites and both work well.

Make ahead tip: Once the zucchini spears are coated and lined up on the sprayed rack, you may refrigerate them, uncovered, for several hours. When ready to bake, allow them to sit at room temperature while the oven is preheating.

Helpful hint: I don’t recommend salting the zucchini before dredging in the flour, as this draws out moisture and can make the coating soggy. The only salt I use is what is already in the seasoned panko (or what you add if using unseasoned panko). For saltier “fries,” simply sprinkle with salt to taste when finished baking.

Adapted From: The Recipe Critic 2013
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

This photo is from an end-of-summer trip the the beach, where we were blessed with sunny skies and low humidity!

At Christian’s school, there’s a parade on the first day and tradition dictates that kindergartners walk hand-in-hand with a senior buddy. It’s absolutely adorable!

Happy 85th, Dad… and he really was surprised!

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Comments

  1. Mary Lou Keller

    I love your photos Ann! your dad does not look 85! I am going to try your zucchini recipe, that looks really good! Thinking I will make it in my airfryer.

    And I am due to make the crispy topped mac and cheese this fall. I have not made that in a couple of years! I am going to use the Ancient Harvest gluten free macaroni. I really like that. I might even try using vegan “cheese” to see how it would turn out. If I do, I will be certain to let you know!

    Did you ever get an instant pot or quick cooker? I have a super turkey lentil chili I love to make in mine that I will be happy to share with you! It is so good and lots of protein! Now that fall is approaching, I am really looking forward to making soups and cool weather meals. I am so over hot summer weather!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you, Mary Lou, and I agree - I’m hoping I got my dad’s youthful genes! I think the zucchini recipe will be wonderful in the air fryer. Feel free to report back though. Also, I do have an Instant Pot and have a few recipes on this site tailored to it (with a slow cooker option). I would love to try your turkey lentil chili. It sounds like something I would enjoy! Lastly, I often use the Ancient Harvest elbows for the GF mac and cheese and they are spot on. I do make sure to cook them fully as opposed to al dente, as I think it makes for a better end result. If you hit on a vegan sauce, I want to hear about it. (I do have a wonderful vegan pesto I can share with you in the meantime!)

      Reply
      1. Gail

        Ann, The family pictures are lovely. Thank you for sharing. If Mary Lou Keller sends you a recipe for turkey lentil chili could you pass it along to me. Sounds like a recipe that would go over well in our home. Thank you.

        Reply
        1. Ann Post author

          I would most certainly share! It does sound delicious, especially as the days are starting off on the cooler side!

          Reply
  2. Maya

    You look like your dad! And in addition to the time and effort you put into your site, it’s really clear there’s a lot of heart there too.

    Reply