Recent eats: BEST of SUMMER Pt. 1

So this shirt basically sums up my mood for this summer:

yup, that’s my favorite shirt.

For me, summer is officially over. I know it technically isn’t, but as far as I’m concerned it is. My first day back at school was on Thursday (even though it was just meetings – it still counts) and I meet my kiddos for the first time this Tuesday. Hello teaching, goodbye free time.

As you may have noticed, I do the majority of my cooking and eating in my own home… but I do like going out for food as well. Here are a few restaurant highlights from this summer. These aren’t all of the places I’ve eaten, but these are definitely the best places.

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Italian sausage & pepper burgers

I love a good hamburger from the grill, but lately I’ve been getting bored by the standard burger. I’ve been switching things up a bit – occasionally I’ll make chicken burgers instead of beef, I’ll experiment with different cheeses, and I’ve done pretty well with trying a variety of toppings. I’ve gone from the staples of lettuce, tomato, and pickles to pulled pork, hot peppers, and fried eggs.

The other day I found sweet Italian sausage patties in the grocery store and I just had to grab them. It’s been a long time since I’ve had sausage & peppers (one of my favorite comfort foods), and I was determined to turn one of my favorites into a burger. I decided to kick things up a notch by giving my burgers some classic garlic bread buns.

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Backyard BBQ coleslaw

As the month of August approaches its end, I’ve been trying to squeeze in as much outdoor time and BBQ fun as I possibly can.

A typical American BBQ usually has the same side salads over and over again – potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, etc. – all of which are dressed in mayonnaise. Unfortunately, mayo is one of the only foods that I really hate. So when I go to BBQ’s, I end up eating burgers and wings with no side dish, except for maybe corn on the cob. Lame!

I love those classic BBQ sides when they are dressed in a vinaigrette rather than all that mayonnaise goop. It’s just so much lighter and more refreshing – not to mention much healthier and fewer calories. This coleslaw recipe is definitely one of my go-to’s when I’m having a BBQ.

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Spicy chick peas & zucchini noodles

I’ve been all about farmer’s markets this summer. There are a few that run weekly fairly close by, and I’ve been making it a point to go and load up on freshly grown produce (among other things).

I prefer to eat a bit lighter during the summertime. Maybe it’s because it’s hot out, or that I’m sweaty, or not as hungry – who knows. But I always see summer as the opportune time to start taking healthy eating a little more seriously and to add a hefty amount of fruits & veggies to my diet.

I have been buying a ton of zucchini. It’s pretty versatile, and can be prepared in a lot of different ways – all of them delicious, and all of them super filling.

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Fresh herb pasta salad

As of late, the heat and humidity in New York has been unbearable. I usually eat hot food for dinner, but over the past two weeks I’ve been making a lot of different side salads to avoid heating up my house with the oven on. This version of pasta salad uses fresh basil and lemon thyme from the garden, which is a complete game changer. You just don’t get the same punch of flavor from dried herbs as you do with fresh ones.

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2-Ingredient smokey BBQ air fryer chicken drumsticks

I absolutely LOVE eating chicken on the bone. When made properly, battered and fried chicken is incredible – the perfect balance of crunchy and juicy.  Though delicious and deserving, I feel like fried chicken gets a ton of praise while roasted chicken is overlooked and extremely underrated.

When chicken is roasted to perfection, the peppery seasoned skin develops this beautiful crispness that locks in the moisture of the meat. It’s basically what dreams are made of. That crispy, crunchy, well-seasoned chicken skin is probably one of my favorite things to eat.

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German sausage stuffing

OK. I’ve been a shitty food blogger. I haven’t updated in almost an entire month.

Life gets busy. Work gets in the way. Thanksgiving happened. You get it.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I hosted the holiday at my home this year. German sausage stuffing is always a big hit. This is my mom’s recipe – but it’s so easy, quick, and delicious.

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Hasselback antipasto chicken breast parmesan

Lately I’ve been on an Italian food kick.

I keep craving it.

Something I truly love is a good chicken parmesan – fried golden brown cutlets, drowning in marinara sauce, and oozing with mozzarella cheese.

This was something I needed to eat. I didn’t have any chicken cutlets, only chicken breasts – and I did not feel like pounding them out. I had an abundance of fresh basil and fresh tomatoes from my yard that I wanted to use, and I also have a ton of homemade sauce that my husband froze in batches a few weeks ago. Mozzarella cheese? Check. I also noticed that I had some bonus pepperoni in my cold cut drawer. This was gonna be good.

In my efforts to lighten up my food, I decided to revamp the chicken parm we all know and love. I went the low-carb route, and didn’t use breadcrumbs or fry the chicken… and it was still delicious.

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Zoodle pesto rosso with crumbled sausage and roasted cauliflower

zoodle pesto rosso with sausage and cauliflower
low carb deliciousness

 

Three of my good friends came over last night, and we decided to cook dinner together.

Like me, Andrew has certain dietary restrictions. He too is lactose intolerant. He is also on a health kick, and has lost a significant amount of weight in the last few months by going low-carb, low-sugar, and working out.

We wanted Italian food, but didn’t want the guilt of eating pasta. We went over to the grocery store, loaded up on zucchini and some other items, and headed back. With the help of a spiral cutter, we were going to have zoodles.

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