Summer Grillin’

Nothing beats a hamburger on the grill. 

Lately, I’ve been grilling up some mean hamburgers. I found some delicious seasoning mix called Fennel and Fire’s Hambuger Blast. And it is life changing. 

I paired my burgers with fried potatoes, lady cream peas and sautéed lemon pepper okra from Me & McGee Market in North Little Rock. 

It was summer produce perfection. 

I absolutely love having a farmer’s market in my backyard. I actually have three within a couple miles of each other so I like to share the love. 

What have you been grillin’ lately? Favorite summer dinners? Favorite farmers’ markets?

Greens and Things

I love brunch. 

If you’ve read this blog over the course of its life, then you know how much I love to share brunch ideas. 

Today’s brunch is all locally sourced and absolutely delicious. 

It all starts with simple ingredients. Rainbow chard. Farm fresh eggs. Local butcher shop bacon. 

My new favorite place to go on Saturday mornings is Me & McGee Market in North Little Rock. It is a gorgeous little farm stand with all the freshest veggies and fruit. 

The produce and eggs are so pretty it’s hard to pass them up. So I didn’t. 

Swiss chard is one of those greens I avoided at the grocery store. But thanks to my experiment with Green Chef, I have mastered fixing them to be so delicious. And you only need about three ingredients. 

Sautéed Rainbow Chard

You will need:

  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 4-6 slices of bacon, sliced into small bits
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

Slice the bacon into small bits. Sauté until crisp and most of the bacon fat has rendered. 

While the bacon cooks, prep the chard. Slice down the sides of the center stem to remove leafy greens. Save the stems. Slice stems into bite sized pieces; set aside. Roll chard leaves into a bunch, and slice into ribbons. 

Remove bacon from pan. Add chard stems to bacon grease. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. 

Add leafy greens to hot pan. Sauté until chard begins to wilt. Add more pepper, red pepper flakes and salt, if desired. Remember the bacon is salty. Add cooked bacon back to the pan.

Heat oil in a separate pan. Fry egg until yolk reaches desired consistency. I like mine runny in the middle. 

Plate chard and top with fried egg. Enjoy. 

I love greens, but I’ve never taken the time to make them. With this cooking method, I plan on making them all the time. 

Day 13: Ranch Chicken Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Cold Cucumber Salad

Last night’s supper was phenomenal. Whole30 or not, we are until we about popped. The boyfriend had two full plates, which is the biggest compliment to any dish I make. 

For the ranch chicken burgers, you need: 

  • 1 pound ground chicken 
  • Dried dill
  • Dried parsley
  • Garlic powder 
  • Onion powder 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper

Combine herbs and spices. Using your hands, mix the seasoning into the ground chicken until well combined. Grill until burgers are done and juices run clear. 

This made five burgers. Smaller parties. 

For the onions:

  • 1/2 onion, sliced 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ghee

Melt ghee in hot pan. Add onions salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and let onions cook slowly until they take on a golden brown color. 

I topped our ranch chicken burgers with guacamole and caramelized onions. I baked some sweet potatoes. And thanks to The Boyfriend’s mom, I have a new favorite summer salad

For the cold cucumber salad, you need:

  • Cucumbers, diced
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Bell peppers, sliced
  • Basil, julienned 
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste
  • Homemade dry rub, recipe below

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until cold. Veggies taste better the longer they sit in the spice and vinegar mixture. 

For the dry rub:

Combine all the following to your taste preference.

  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried parsley 

Just the right amount of flavor and heat. So good. We’ve been putting this on everything. 

I’m feeling more alert when I wake up in the morning, and that feeling is lasting throughout the day. My skin is looking amazing. Hardly any breakouts. My tummy is still having a little trouble, but it may just be from the sheer volume of food I ate yesterday. 

I am flexing my creativity muscles in the kitchen, and I feel more empowered after making my own breakfast sausage. 

We are going to try to go out to eat this week to have that experience. It’s crazy to think I’ve prepared 39 meals in the last 13 days. I grocery shop 2-3 times per week. Every meal is thoughtfully prepared. Every snack is packed by my own hands. 

I also had a dream about a gigantic cinnamon roll. It was gooey and delicious and I woke up feeling slightly guilty for cheating on Whole30 in my dreams. But apparently that happens. The emotional connection to food is strong. Stronger than you realize until you give up things you never had to. 

If you’ve done Whole30, or any diet or life change, share how you navigated the emotional connections your have to food. I find this to be the most interesting observation in my own journey. 

Day 2: The Hangover

It’s the close of day 2. All the food is prep except for the eggs, which are currently in a pot on the stove not boiling. 

I’m tired. I’m cranky. My head hurts. My body aches. This is sugar leaving my body. I believe they call this withdrawals. 

I thought about cheese a lot today. Like more than any one human should. Many cheese filled thoughts. 

But no cheese was had. 

Breakfast was the same as yesterday. 

I had an avocado tuna salad with sliced cucumbers and orange bell pepper. It was delighful. 

All you need to do is mash up an avocado, stir in the flaky tuna, add lots of pepper and salt, and I chopped up some cherry tomatoes for added flavor. 

The boyfriend had leftovers from last night’s dinner. 

Supper tonight was a Whole30 take on taco salad. 

I cut tons of lettuce out of the garden so I knew we had to use it. I browned the hamburger meat with two shallots and some diced yellow bell pepper. I added a can of Rotel to the pan, and I stirred in my taco spices. Cumin. Chili powder. Red pepper flakes. Salt. Pepper. Garlic powder. 

I didn’t measure anything so my just-eyeballin’-it taco seasoning was outrageously hot. But delicious. 

I topped my homegrown lettuce with the taco meat, tomatoes, avocado and Whole30 compliant salsa. 

All that was missing was mounds of cheese. 

Did I say I missed cheese? 

My least favorite part of all this is getting everything ready the night before. I’ve spent three nights in the kitchen cooking and prepping and cleaning and bagging and labeling. I just want to watch some mindless TV and eat a cupcake. 

A cheesy cupcake.

But I digress. 

Sautéed Shrimp Salad

With the days getting longer and warmer, I’ve found myself wanting to play outside when I get home from work. 

Boyfriend cleans the pool. I water the garden and flowers. We sit on the deck and chat while drinking a beer or a glass of wine. 

Then I realize it’s almost 8 p.m. and I haven’t even thought about what’s for supper. 

Last night was like that. I don’t ever want to be a slave to my kitchen. But I do want to make something quick and easy on the nights I’d rather just relax. 

Sautéed Shrimp Salad

What you need:

  • Favorite greens 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Cucumber 
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh basil
  • Shrimp
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes

First, prepare the salad. I used Buttercrisp lettuce I grew in the garden, cherry tomatoes, half a cucumber, fresh dill and fresh basil. 

I cut the tomatoes in half, and the cucumber into half moon shaped pieces. I julienned the basil and chopped the dill. 

The dill and basil took this simple salad to the next level. Very vibrant in flavor. 

Prepare the shrimp by seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Heat up the pan on medium high, and throw in a little olive oil and a couple cloves of garlic, roughly chopped. 

Add the shrimp to the screaming hot pan. Add in red pepper flakes to taste. Sauté until shrimp are pink, about 5 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and add in more fresh chopped dill and basil. Serve immediately. 

I separated my shrimp and salad because the shrimp had tails on. But I combined everything once I took care of the tails. Boyfriend went all in with a combination bowl. 

Light and fresh. This is a delicious meal to enjoy on the days when you’d rather not cook. 

I found it really satisfying to eat greens I grew myself. And if you aren’t growing an herb garden yet, go ahead and do that. It will take you cooking game up several notches. 

What is your go-to meal when you’d rather not be a slave to the kitchen?