Monday, May 28, 2012

Easy Breezy Nights and Cook-out Fare

Gypsy Slow Down

The air was hot and humid, the kind of evening that wakes you up every time your face hits the cold indoors when you come back in the house. We set up the table under the big tree, and as I looked at the sky I felt little pieces of gratitude settling in the back of my mind. That the sun was strong with no rain lurking in the shadows. That I had gotten everything done this weekend for all the good family things we went to; the truffles for Abby's graduation party, the sun-dried tomato salad for granddad's party, the shopping for dinner with my family, the presents made, the gifts bought, the cook-out planned and now this was the end and after this there would be a time of silence, a beautiful day of nothing to do, an extra wonderful day since it's Memorial Day.

But first this night, and while we scrambled to clean the house and set up for the cookout I can't say I practiced gratitude the entire time. Not when Witt tossed the cupcakes in the bag at Harris Teeter. Tossed. Tossed is not something you do with a tray of cupcakes. It doesn't end well. We got set up despite ourselves and as the first guest arrived and the conversation was fun and easy, I knew it was going to be a good night.

The cook-out was for our first small group get-together and it was a fun night of hanging out with new couples, of playing the newlywed game, talking about what we want our group to be and eating smokey hamburgers off the charcoal grill.

Since it's cookout day, season, time of the year, I want to share with you in this post two yummy recipes I made over the weekend; the sun-dried tomato pasta salad and an amazingly easy and delicious onion dip.

Gypsy Slow Down

I love love love love love love grilled pineapples. LOVE THEM. Salty sweet, smoky, succulent, the perfect addition to a hamburger. So summer.

Gypsy Slow Down

The Newlywed Game was a lot of fun. Questions like: What would your spouse say is the last thing you two argued about? Ladies, what would your husband say is your favorite outfit? If your spouse died and came back as a dog would they be a....ect. (Note that on this one Witt said I would come back as a poodle...?!) It was fun to see how much we really knew about each other and to hear the other couples answers.

Gypsy Slow Down

Never seen one this big, inching its way towards my door over the brick, wanting to get inside....if I woke up with him in my bed one night you would hear me all the way where you are!

Gypsy Slow Down

This is a wonderful summer dish to take along on all your cook-outs and picnics.

Gypsy Slow Down

I made this pasta salad last summer for the Davis fourth of July and so I thought of it this weekend. It has such good flavors, kalamata olives, feta, sun dried tomatoes. Perfect for summer. The recipe is by Ina Garten and I changed up the cheese and the herbs this time so I will put that in parentheses. I think both ways to make it is great.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad


  • 1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
  • 3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced (or use Feta)
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned (or a combo of pineapple sage, basil, parsley and dill)


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Gypsy Slow Down

This onion dip is by Alton Brown and its so easy its ridiculous. It's also ridiculously delicious. I used cream cheese and greek yogurt which was good but the recipe calls for sour cream. I think you can mix and match with what you have on hand.

Onion Dip

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.

Happy Cook-Outs!

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