September 15, 2009

... a trip to Tybee Island & Savannah, Georgia

We took an "end of summer" vacation this past weekend to Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia.  If you haven't been, I'd definitely recommend it.  Tybee Island is a quaint little beach town with perfect beach vacation activities: bike riding, lounging on the beach, eating great seafood.  

On Tybee, we ate at The Crab Shack and had raw oysters on the half shell and the Shack Specialty - a sortof low boil of crab legs, mussels, corn on the cob, sausage, shrimp, potatoes, crawdads... it was so fresh and delicious!  We also stopped at The Sugar Shack for breakfast a couple mornings and enjoyed egg & bacon sandwiches and grits... so southern!  I'm still kicking myself for not indulging in a chocolate malt... places like that always have the best ice cream concoctions.  We had lunch at AJ's Dockside.  With great outdoor seating, refreshing Rum Punch and seafood po'boys you should definitely check it out.  Another place you have to go to if you're ever on Tybee is Huc-a-Poos.   Owned by good friends of a good friend, Huc-a-Poos is the best little bar on the island.  Delicious pizza, cold beer and great people - what more could you want?  

We took a little road trip to Savannah one evening to experience The Lady & Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant.  I have never been so full of down home cooking in my entire life and I'd do it again in a heartbeat... even if that heartbeat is now dripping in butter :)  Definitely try out the buffet when you're there for a sampling of everything that's good about southern cooking - fried chicken, low boil, mashed potatoes, lima beans, mac n' cheese, black eyed peas, sweet candied yams... my mouth is watering!  

Now... where's that treadmill?

September 7, 2009

... Pomegranate Chipotle Dip

Have you heard of Tastefully Simple? Because if you haven't, you have now and you should check it out. Buy it. It's good. Really. Go now (well, as soon as you're finished reading).

Everything I've ever made with Tastefully Simple goods has been great, but this may be one of the best purchases ever. I try to always have a jar of Pomegranate Chipotle Sauce in my pantry. (Ash, I'll be ordering soon!) There are so many things you can use it for. Honestly, I've only ever used it for this dip, but I'm sure there are many other uses and you can even look up recipes for it on the website. Have you gone yet? Do it.

This dip is the easiest thing to make. It requires 4 ingredients (5 if you count the crackers) and it might take an entire 10 minutes to put together... if that. I'm pretty sure you won't even need to write it down. Ready?

1 block of cream cheese (I typically use the 1/3 less fat from Kraft)
Pomegranate Chipotle Sauce
bacon (most of the time I use turkey bacon... don't tell Rich!)
green onions, chopped

Place the block of cream cheese on a plate. Pour Pomegranate Chipotle Sauce over it - however much you want. I usually just eyeball it. Sprinkle crumbled bacon (cooked of course!) and green onions on top. Serve it with crackers - I use Wheat Thins (reduced fat... again, shhh)

Really. Make it. People will love you. Seriously. Like really love you. And they'll ask you to make it again... and again... and again...


September 6, 2009

... Grilled Salmon with Gazpacho Salsa

So here it is, the inaugural blog post. I suppose this is like with anything else, you just jump in and see what happens... right? One thing was for sure, the first post had to be a good one. You be the judge.

The recipe for Grilled Salmon with Gazpacho Salsa came from my Nordstrom Friends & Family cookbook. I've had it for a couple years now and I'm ashamed to say that this may be the first recipe I've made from it. There's a first time for everything, though, and it definitely won't be the last. The recipe was really easy and didn't call for crazy or expensive ingredients... yea!

As we do with most (ok, all) new (or old) recipes we make, Rich and I started by opening a bottle of red. This one was really great... straight from Sonoma Valley. Thanks Kate & Jimmy! The only thing that disappointed me about it was knowing you can only get the black label Cellar 8 at their winery in Sonoma. Looks like I may need to book a little vacay soon!

Ok, the recipe... chopping up the veggies was the most time consuming part. And really, that didn't even take too long. Once I finished the salsa, I popped it in the frige and Rich got started on the salmon. Prepping the salmon was super easy (especially since Rich did it) and all it called for was olive oil, salt and pepper. To the grill for 4-5 minutes per side and voila! dinner is ready.

We served it up with a big garden salad and some warm, crusty whole grain bread. I know the picture quality isn't exactly the same, but I'd say we did a pretty good job, don't you think?

serves 6

8 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, diced and drained
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
3 green onions, including green tops, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and diced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 6 equal portions, each about 4 inches square
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for brushing

To make the Gazpacho Salsa, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, red onion, bell pepper, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on medium.

Rub the salmon pieces with a light amount of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Brush the grill grate generously with vegetable oil. Place the salmon directly over the fire. Cover the grill and cook on one side until a spatula inserted under the salmon easily lifts the fillet, about 4 minutes. Turn the salmon about 90 degrees to create attractive cross-hatching and cook for 1 minute longer. Carefully flip the salmon over and continue grilling, covered, until opaque throughout and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, about 4 minutes.

Using a wide spatula, transfer the salmon to warmed dinner plates. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the Gazpacho Salsa over each portion of grilled salmon and serve immediately.

Taylor's notes:
We cut this recipe in half and used 1 1/2 pounds of salmon which was more than plenty for the two of us. Rich bought the salmon skin-on, so prepared the skinless side with olive oil, salt and pepper. He grilled the salmon skin-side down for 4 minutes, flipped the salmon and peeled off the skin. He then oiled, salted and peppered that side and continued with the grilling. He flipped the salmon back over and grilled that side for another minute. Even after halving the salsa recipe, we had a lot leftover. I think it'll be tasty on top of grilled chicken or pork in the next day or two.