The beautiful, breezy and laid back days of summer are here. Long, lazy days at the beach and by the pool or swinging in a hammock with a book and a warm breeze push thoughts of a hot kitchen far from view. The goal is: simple, pared down, light and outdoors. Nothing like the smell of fresh burgers grilling away to lure even the most dedicated sunbather in for lunch!
I’m thinking easy burgers, simple salads, gazpacho (super healthy vegetable soup made in your blender,) healthy sides and cool desserts. Here are a few recipes I have had great success with over the years. They are all quite simple and really let the character of the ingredients shine through. As always, feel free to experiment with ingredients and make any substitutions you like.
~I love all sorts of burgers – stuffed, turkey, Italian, etc. but this time of year simple is the key word.
Serves 3 or 4
- 1 pound ground chuck (don’t use anything higher than 80 – 20 if you want juicy burgers)
- 1 small onion
- A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Take your meat and divide into either 3 or 4 portions. Now, grate a little onion on each portion, maybe a couple of teaspoons. Add a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce and very gently mix it together with your hands but handling as little as possible. Overworking the ground beef makes it tough. For heaven’s sake don’t slap it as I’ve seen people do!
- Sprinkle the outside with a little salt and freshly ground pepper and put it on a hot grill or in a hot pan on the stove. Cook to the desired doneness.
- Now comes the fun part! There are endless toppings for burgers but here are a few of my favorites: sauteed mushrooms and garlic, sauteed onions and/or peppers, fresh sliced jalapenos, pesto, gorgonzola, bacon, mozzarella and fresh basil, chili, guacamole, etc.
- Any kind of cheese you like: cheddar, sharp provolone, pepper jack, swiss, American, even pimiento cheese if you are feeling very southern!
Have fun. Mix and match. Burger toppings are morally neutral – there is no right or wrong!
Pile it all on a crusty roll and dig in!
- I like to start out with a nice cold cup of Gazpacho to get the taste buds fired up! It’s soup and salad all at once. Super healthy and easy as can be.
Kitchen Princess Gazpacho
Get your blender or food processor out.
1 large tomato peeled and 1 chopped for garnish. To peel, bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop the tomato in. Let it sit for 30 seconds or so. Take it out and the skin should slip off easily.
- 1 large or 2 medium cucumbers peeled and 1 chopped for garnish
- 1/2 green or red pepper and 1/2 chopped for garnish
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions for garnish
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 3 cups of tomato juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Reserve the vegetable garnishes. Put everything in the blender with half the tomato juice. Puree thoroughly and add the rest of the juice. Taste to correct the seasonings. Chill and serve cold with bowls of the chopped vegetables and fresh sour cream.
- I love corn on the cob and this is how I prepare it.
To make it I just shuck the corn, clean off the silk, snap the ears in half – it’s so much easier to eat that way – and cook in boiling water for 10 – 12 minutes. Then I drain it and add a stick of butter to the pot, put the lid back on and shake the pot when the butter is melted. Easy! Sometimes, I’ll melt the butter and cook a chopped up clove of garlic in it for a minute or so. Really takes the corn to a magical place!
- My husband can’t eat a burger without potatoes so here’s how I do it:
Kitchen Princess Roast Potatoes
- 1 small bag red-skinned potatoes or any kind you like
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Seasoned salt
- 1/4 cup of red wine
Wash the potatoes and cut them in half if they’re small, in quarters if they’re large. Don’t peel them. Toss them all in a big roasting pan or pyrex dish. Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoned salt. Cook about 1 1/2 hours at 400 using a spatula to turn them over a few times during roasting. When they are nice and brown and crispy, pour the red wine over them and let them cook a few minutes more. SO YUMMY! The red wine adds a really nice depth and a little sass but you can leave it out if you like.
- I have a little garden and I seem to always have tomatoes on hand so this is what I do with them when I get a good harvest.
Kitchen Princess Tomato Salad
- Several ripe tomatoes – beefsteak, roma, cherry, yellow pear, whatever you have
- 1 Vidalia onion
- Chopped herbs – basil, oregano, chives, thyme, Italian parsley, cilantro, etc.
- Salt and pepper
- Roughly chop your tomatoes. I use a mix of several different kinds.
- Slice the onion into thin rings and then cut the rings in half. Put it all in a bowl.
- Now I just drizzle oil and vinegar over it, always olive oil and usually balsamic vinegar but red wine or apple cider vinegar would work just as well. I like it to be pretty wet but not floating.
- Sprinkle on some sea salt and fresh ground pepper and any or all of the herbs.
- Let it sit for awhile at room temperature to let the flavors develop. I’ve also used tamari instead of vinegar but in that case, leave out the salt. As the tomatoes and onions sit in the bowl they will give up some of their juice and become wetter but all the more juice to sop up with some crusty Italian bread! Throw in some chopped jalapenos if you are feeling spicy!
- Nothing says summer quite like peaches and so, this time of year with wonderful, juicy, southern peaches in abundance, it’s the perfect time to indulge in a bowl of silky and delicious fresh peach ice cream! Add a couple of crisp cookies and you’re all set.
Kitchen Princess Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Makes about 10 1/2 cup servings
- 2 cups fresh peaches, sliced and chopped
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 cup whole milk, well chilled
- 2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a small bowl, combine the peaches with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir gently and let the peaches macerate in the juices for 2 hours. Strain the fruit, reserving the juice. Mash or puree half the fruit.
- In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the milk and remaining sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, reserved peach juice, mashed peaches and vanilla.
- Turn the Ice Cream Maker on. Pour the mixture into the freezer bowl and let it mix until thickened, about 20-25 minutes. Now, walk away! Five minutes before the mixing is complete, add the reserved sliced peaches and let mix in completely. The ice cream will be soft, creamy and heavenly! If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer to an airtight container and place in the freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving.
Have fun making these recipes that will cause your reputation as a Kitchen Princess to soar! Enjoy!