Tag Archives: Summer

Texas-Style Pit BBQ

24 Jul

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, this post might reaffirm your choice to avoid meat. Either that or you’ll renounce your non-meat-eating ways for the delicious, barbecue sauce coated deliciousness you see here! I’m just kidding…sort of =)

Saturday turned out to be the perfect California day for a Texas-style pit BBQ!…Nevermind the fact that I don’t know what type of day is generally perfect for a Texas BBQ, or a Texas anything for that matter. Just because I’ve never been to Texas doesn’t mean I can’t imagine what it might be like, though- sitting beneath what I’ve been told is a giant sky (everything really is bigger in Texas, right?), sweet tea in hand, enjoying the summer day while wafts of mesquite scent the air.

Wafts of mesquite can only mean one thing in Texas. Maybe not. Mesquite can probably mean more than one thing. But I hope it usually means delicious, barbecued chicken, brisket, and ribs. I can imagine bbq sauce to be the only acceptable condiment in Texas, too, though I could be wrong? Don’t shatter my dreams, it’s definitely my favorite anyway!

What all of this comes down to is that my family doesn’t know an authentic Texas pit bbq any better than we know a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil or Greek celebration, but that didn’t stop us from using our imaginations and the slew of movie-driven stereotypes we’ve accumulated in our minds to recreate those events in the comfort of our own parents’ home. It’s just what we do. And since my oldest bro was planning to be in town for the SF Marathon next weekend, this weekend was the perfect time to round him up with the rest of the family & a couple good family friends (Hi Becky, Daniel, Lane & Marina!) for swimming, squirt guns, volleyball, food, and various other forms of debauchery. Always a good time!

I hit up the fruit stand last week for all the necessary produce. And then, this is just one of the THREE well-stocked refrigerators my parents have. How will we ever get by?!

Barbecue barrel! I know what you’re thinking. Seems a little crazy, right? But I promise you everything wasn’t just chucked in the barrel haphazard. As far as I know. I can’t, however, promise you my brother had any idea at all what he was doing. That being said, we must have had a good amount of luck on our side, because everything came out a-maz-ing!

Slow & low in the BBQ smoker, slow & low…and TA-DA!

Along with the barbecued chicken, brisket, ribs, and hot links, we enjoyed potato salad, fruit salad, corn on the cob, rolls, & bacon baked beans.

Once everyone passed out on the ground digested a bit, we continued the rousing game of volleyball that was started before dinner. The way we play, I’m not sure anyone really comes out a winner, but everyone had fun. I’ve been told that’s all that really matters. Played until the ice cream maker sounded like it’d give out if we waited any longer, and served it up with my raspberry peach cobbler!

I’ll post the recipe once I’ve finished digesting and recovering from this weekend’s craziness! It’s only 8:30pm and I can hardly keep my eyes open…
Nighty night 😉

Fruit Stand of my Dreams

21 Jul

I realize I haven’t talked much about summer school lately, but that’s more about trying to pretend it doesn’t exist than about it not actually happening.

It’s happening, though, and I know because otherwise I spend more hours than usual in a prolonged state of confusion, brows furrowed, mouth slightly agape, cursing the day I got myself into this mess, all for nothing. Possible, but not probable.

And that’s just the time spent in class. As if that wasn’t enough time spent interpreting a professor’s warp-speed lectures as long-winded reminders of my scientific inadequacies, I get to hear them resonate in my head later as I read about the stuff that I was previously blissfully unaware that I didn’t understand before.

It’s like a daily, “Hey you, here’s another thing you didn’t know, won’t know, but should know. By Monday. Kthanks.” Insert me crying + Major *SAD FACE*

Sometimes information overload lends itself to a hefty dose of self-preservational tactics which include, but aren’t limited to: profuse, unnecessary use of highlighters (through personal experience, I’ve noticed that if you highlight the whole page, it’s not as useful. Weird…), excessive fidgeting, daydreaming about things that are only exciting relative to the current situation (ex: making oatmeal), and writing out to-do lists primarily composed of things I’ve already accomplished, just so I get to cross them off.

I really wish doodling was still in. Whatever happened to that? Doodling was nice.

It’s really not always as bad as I make it out to be, but obviously I’d still rather be in Europe or on a beach somewhere, but I think that goes without saying.

That being said, I’ve also been busy getting ready/shopping for my family’s summer party this weekend! It’s become a thing…usually a thing with a theme. From the Bayou to the Mediterranean, we’ve got a few under our belts, and while I wouldn’t say they’re anything fancy, they are fun and obviously involve lots of awesome food!

This time, Texas style pit BBQ!

In order to make that happen, cue Fruit Stand. Be still my heart, little fruit stand.

It’s like a cross between a grocery store and a farmer’s market- local, fresh, seasonal produce but unlike a once or twice a week farmer’s market, it’s there EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!  Amazing.

The prices are MUCH more reasonable than a farmer’s market, too!  After perusing the aisles as usual, I scored a bunch of yummy stuff for Saturday:

* Seedless watermelon
* Canteloupe
* Honeydew melon
* Yellow Peaches
* Nectarines
* Corn on the cob
* Lettuce
* Celery
* Cilantro
* Avocados
* Yellow Cauliflower
* Cucumbers

There’s really just one problem with this place- they need bigger carts!

I’ve never actually been to a Texas pit BBQ, but I think that just means it involves lots of meat, BBQ sauce, and anything else you can cook over an open flame.

Corn on the cob. Zucchini. And lots of peach cobbler, too! Stay tuned!

Zucchini Coffee Cake

11 Jul

This is still happening. Right now, as we speak. I know, it’s alarming.

Sometimes when life gives you (buckets and buckets of) zucchini, you just have to go with it.  This coffee cake is me going with it. 

I haven’t done the exact math on it, but I think this coffee cake ends up being somewhere around 85-90% zucchini.  The rest is primarily crumb topping, which, as far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with. 

You should probably double the recipe, just to try to attempt to get the zucchini crop under control, you know, if you’re like me and that’s something you’re dealing with at this point. 

Although, if you wanted to, you could probably just double the crumb topping portion and relinquish your kitchen to the hoards of zucchini threatening to knock down your door (just make sure you get oven rights first) I wouldn’t judge. My lips are zipped!…

Unless you set delicious sugar-cinnamony things in front of me, then all bets are off.

Zucchini Coffee Cake

(Makes a single batch, for an 8″ pan)

* 1/4 cup butter or margarine
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 3/4 cup milk (any kind)
* 1 egg
* 2 cups flour
* 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 2 cups zucchini, grated

Crumb Topping:
* 1/2 cup butter or margarine
* 2/3 cup flour
* 2/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375* F. Grease or line a, 8″ square pan, or a 9 x 13″ pan if you want to double the recipe. If you’re growing zucchini, you will probably want to do this. I did!

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand) cream together the margarine, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the egg and the milk, and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until incorporated. Add in the grated zucchini and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

For the crumb topping, add all of the ingredients to a bowl, and use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the margarine into the mixture. It should resemble course meal when you’re done. (I didn’t do it this time, but adding rolled oats to the crumb topping is also delicious and adds another level of texture!)
Sprinkle the topping over the batter evenly.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the topping is golden brown.

Yummy green zucchini flecks!

They’re so much easier to eat with a fork this way, too! 😀

4th of July S’mores Bars

4 Jul

Happy 4th of July!!

This picture was from the 3rd of July Fireworks Jubilee in my home-town last night!

I’m spending the weekend with my family, taking small breaks from studying for midterms to relax & trying to stay cool in this crazy heat!

I’m already a pretty patriotic person. I have a giant American flag adorning my bedroom wall.  I may or may not own a stars & stripes bikini.  Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the Marine Corps. birthday aren’t just days off from school, but reasons to bake star-shaped cookies.  And, just hearing “Proud to be an American” makes me cry.  Needless to say, the 4th of July is really just an excuse to go all-out…even more.  Grilling, hanging by the pool, sipping a frosty beverage.  Celebrating America.  Pretty much nothing out of the ordinary, at least for me.  Except with this particular day, there are fireworks.  Assuming there are already toasty, melty marshmallows, and gooey chocolate involved, nothing could make me love a summer holiday more than adding fireworks into the mix.  The bombs bursting in air get me teary-eyed every time, no joke.  Turn on “Proud to be an American” during a fireworks display, and forget it, I’m a mess.  Fireworks, check.  Marshmallowy treats, check!

All-American S’mores Bars

* 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7-8 graham crackers)
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
* 1 jar marshmallow fluff

Preheat your oven to 350* F, and line or grease an 8″ square baking pan.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy with a mixer or just mix it up in a bowl by hand.
Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and graham cracker crumbs.
Add to the butter mixture and beat together until combined. Divide the dough in half, and push half of the dough into the bottom of your pan.
It will look a little bit thin, but don’t worry, the layer will puff up a bit when it bakes.

Layer the chocolate bars on top of the dough. 2 king-size bars should fit perfectly side-by-side in an 8″ square pan.

Smooth the marshmallow creme or fluff over the chocolate bar layer, using a knife or whatever is convenient.

Layer the remaining half of the dough over the top of the marshmallow layer. To do this, it’s easiest if you take small pieces of dough, smoosh them out into a small sheet, and piece them together in the pan.  Sprinkle extra graham cracker crumbles over the top of the dough.

Bake 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and delicious! Allow the bars to cool in the pan before slicing.

I love you, America!!

Gluten Free Rosemary Black Olive Crackers

2 Jul

It sure is heating up outside! Freak thunder, lightning, and rain storm a few day ago aside, I’d definitely say summer is here, and it’s not messing around. Remember when I accused the weather of thinking this was Seattle rather than California? I think now we’re all sufficiently convinced Mother Nature is all over this summer sitch. California doesn’t joke around about summer days, it hits you in the face with them, and then throws on a little more heat just for the fun of it. And then probably laughs.

While I wouldn’t say that sunburns, heatstroke, and extra sweat pouring down your face at the gym when you forgot a towel (I know right? NOT ideal) are perks of a Mediterranean climate, I think that the herb-growing potential definitely is! My parents have Rosemary bushes growing rampant in front of their house, filling the air with promise of herb-seasoned chicken, and aromatic crackers. In case you couldn’t tell, I kinda love the stuff.

I think you know what happens next: Rosemary + black olives + olive oil = Mediterranean-inspired cracker promise come true.

These aren’t my first cracker recipe creation, but they are my first gluten free cracker attempt- I think they were tasty and successful! Give them a try…I can see hummus dipping in the near future!

Gluten Free Rosemary Black Olive Crackers

* 1 cup millet flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
* 1/2 cup white rice flour
* 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
* 1 tsp salt
* 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 3 Tbsp water
* 1/2 cup black olives, finely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt, rosemary, and chopped olives.
Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add the olive oil. Massage the oil into the mixture until it resembles course meal. Add the water and then the egg and combine until a dough forms.
Roll out the dough on your parchment paper (cut to fit a baking sheet) or your Silpat just about as thin as you can get it with a lightly floured rolling pin.
With a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into squares or whatever shapes you’d like (without cutting through the Silpat!). You could even use round or shaped cookie cutters. Poke each cracker with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake one sheet at a time at 325* F for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Flip the crackers and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until crispy.
* Don’t overbake these, but in my opinion, these are tastier when more golden than less golden, otherwise they’ll be a little on the softer side.

I know you don’t want to turn on the oven during the day if you live in the same thousand degree climate I do right now, so I suggest some late-night baking. It’s really the only way! =)