Squash Fritters with Buttermilk Dressing

Squash fritters are the seasonal appetizer you never knew you needed in your life. Easy to throw together and highly snackable, these fritters are worth turning on the stove for. Plus, there’s a buttermilk chive dipping sauce that you’ll want to dip everything into (or bathe in). Serve these to friends alongside cocktails (an aperol spritz perhaps?) or just munch on them solo with a glass of wine. Pick up some squash from the grocery store or farmer’s market and get frying.

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Squash Fritters with Buttermilk Dressing

From Julia Turshen

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound summer squash, coarsely grated
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying

Whisk together the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and baking powder.  Place the grated squash in a piece of cheesecloth and wrap it up tightly. Wring out the liquid over the sink. Squeeze real hard since the less moisture in the fritters, the crispier they’ll be! Heat 1/4 cup oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, drop in tablespoonfuls of the squash mixture and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Cook for 3 minutes and then flip over and cook for about 2 more minutes until nicely browned. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Continue to fry the remaining fritters adding more oil to pan.

Whisk together the buttermilk, mayo, red wine vinegar, garlic, chives and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Serve alongside fritters.

Nectarine Corn Muffins

Confession: cooking in the summer stresses me out sometimes.  With the abundance of in-season produce comes the pressure to bake all the pies, make jam, pesto, corn salad, gazpacho, watermelon margaritas – the list goes on. It’s straight up fruit and vegetable FOMO.  Julia Turshen recently wrote a wonderful article in The Washington Post about simplifying summer cooking and it really put things into perspective for me. The article talks about how little you have to do to summer produce – it shines on its own. Julia included a fresh crop of simple recipes that I can’t wait to try including garlicky marinated tomatoes, crispy, smoky skillet corn and squash fritters with buttermilk dressing! I decided to try her nectarine corn muffins first because I love a corn muffin and my favorite summer fruit is the nectarine – which I didn’t even know you could bake with! You can make these delicious, tender muffins in one bowl and use any stone fruit you love. I ate three in one sitting and have 0 regrets.

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nectarine corn muffin recipe

easy corn muffin recipe for summer

Nectarine Corn Muffins

From Julia Turshen

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup regular buttermilk (I used regular milk)
  • 8 ounces chopped nectarines (I used 1 large one)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a size muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.  Combine the egg, melted butter and buttermilk in a large bowl and mix.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the nectarines.

Distribute the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the toothpick test comes back clean.

Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz is synonymous with summer, and if you haven’t tried one yet, get on it! This cocktail is low-alcohol making it the perfect daytime summer sipper. Do as the Italians do and sip this three-ingredient aperitif (pre-dinner cocktail) al fresco with a bowl of potato chips. Salut!

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Aperol Spritz

  • 4 ounces Prosecco
  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 3/4 ounce club soda
  • orange slice for garnish

Fill a wine glass with ice. Pour prosecco in, then Aperol and top with club soda. Garnish with orange slice.

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First drink on board my Alaskan cruise: a spritz of course!

Summer Cobb Salad

While the dog days of summer officially begin in a couple of days (thanks, Google!), there’s a full-on heat wave happening here in New York. With the temperature climbing and lethargy sinking in, the only dinners I feel like making are easy and oven-less. Bright, fresh, summery salads are the perfect antidote to sweltering heat and faulty AC units. This cobb salad is bursting with summer produce – fresh corn, tomatoes, avocado and chives. Plus, it has enough protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied. The only heavy lifting you’ll need to do is grill the chicken and boil eggs.

If you’re looking for more no-cook dinner inspiration, check out my recent article!

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Summer Cobb Salad

Dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad:
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 package of spring mix salad greens or arugula
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into cubes
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin, grilled brushed with some BBQ sauce at the end and cut into strips
1 avocado, cut into cubes
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chives, minced

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. On a large platter, arrange lettuce and top with rows of the tomatoes, egg, avocado, chicken and corn. Sprinkle chives over everything and season salad with salt and pepper. Pour dressing on top of salad and serve.

S’more Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes in a kitchen that was roughly 97°F  –  before I turned the oven on. Perhaps the heat caused my brain to swell and I decided it would be a good idea to bake. Were they worth the sweat? Yes. Were they everything I dreamed of and more? Also yes.

The graham cracker cupcake is filled with a blob of delicious, rich chocolate and the whole thing is topped with marshmallow fluff which gets toasted under the broiler. These cupcakes deliver on that s’more flavor we all know and love. Plus, the presentation is A+. Happy sweaty summer!

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S’more Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 graham crackers (rectangles)
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk

 

Filling:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • Pinch of salt

Frosting:

  • Marshmallow fluff in a jar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, graham crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix until combined, followed by 1/2 of almond milk, mixing again. Repeat until everything is combined.

Fill the lined  muffin tin 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Use a small knife to remove a small amount of cake from the cupcake center.

Place the chocolate and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the almond milk and stir until everything is melted and combined.  Cool the chocolate mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes – stirring every couple of minutes.

Transfer chocolate into a plastic bag and snip off the corner.  Squeeze a small amount of chocolate into each cupcake.

Frost the cupcakes generously with the marshmallow fluff. Toast under broiler for about 2-3 minutes – monitoring closely so they don’t burn!

Pizza Two Ways

I love experimenting with pizza toppings. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a classic plain cheese pizza now and again – I’m not a bougie monster. But there’s something to be said for un-basic toppings. For inspiration I love to look at Gjelina’s menu (I also have their cookbook). Some of my pizza bucket list toppings include: brussels sprouts and burrata, smoked mozzarella and jalapeno, feta and blistered tomato, and castelvetrano olive and caramelized onion to name a few.

Sometimes when the stars align just right some of these ingredients happen to be in my fridge. (OK, maybe I am a bit bougie?) Leftover ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and some Trader Joe’s Soyrizo were the heroes this time around. A stray can of whole plum tomatoes served as the super simple sauce on one side of my pizza and on the other side I opted for just olive oil and minced garlic. I always keep store bought pizza dough in my freezer – it opens up so many doors.

It’s easy to order a pizza (thank you, Seamless) but it’s also surprisingly easy to make extraordinary pizza at home. Forage your fridge for some interesting topping ingredients and use whatever cheese you have on hand – feta, mozzarella, goat cheese – it’s all fair game! If you want to replicate my half and half pie, just halve each of the below recipes.

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Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out with a paper towel
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in the pan and drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle minced garlic on. Using a tablespoon, dollop some ricotta cheese blobs around the dough surface. Take clumps of spinach and scatter on the dough next. Finally tear apart pieces of the mozzarella and place in areas that are devoid of ricotta or spinach. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza with Soyrizo and Mozzarella 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • Tomato sauce (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes that I pureed in the can with an immersion blender)
  • 1/2 package of soyrizo, browned
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Arugula

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan. Place dough in the pan and spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the soyrizo on top of the sauce and finish with torn pieces of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with arugula and serve.

Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Sometimes winter needs a dose of bright, summer flavor to remind us that the ground will eventually thaw and longer, sunny days are on the horizon. I’m partial to making barbecue brisket sandwiches in January, muddling mint in my cocktails in February and sprinkling out of season (but readily available) berries on my yogurt in March. Call me a dreamer but sometimes I just want a hot dog and an ice cream cone for dinner. These blackberry cornmeal pancakes are the perfect antidote to summertime longing. Pockets of juicy blackberries nestled in a fluffy cornmeal pancake – these are not your run of the mill limp pancakes. The flour and cornmeal give the pancake a lovely, rich texture and bonus – these are super quick and easy to whip up. Make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a quick weekday breakfast!

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Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Yield: About 13 pancakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup ricotta

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the skillet

3/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup blackberries

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine 3 tablespoons butter, milk, followed by the eggs. Stir in blackberries. Combine mixture with dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are incorporated.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet for each pancake. Flip the pancakes when bubbles begin to appear all over top, about 2 minutes. Cook for another minute until golden on the other side. Keep pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

I recently bought a 5 pound bag of carrots and let me tell you – those suckers are resilient! I used some carrots in my chicken soup. I brought carrot sticks to work to munch on. I made my favorite carrot soup. Despite my efforts to incorporate more carrots into my diet, there was still a hefty number of carrots left in the fridge.

I decided to go big with my carrot swan song.  I chose a dish that really elevates the humble carrot.  A spice rub, comprised of smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, mustard powder and sugar, adds a delightful smokey and sweet flavor to the carrots when they caramelize and the harissa yogurt is the perfect creamy accompaniment. If you find yourself flush with carrots, make this recipe. It’s super flavorful and way more interesting than your run of the mill carrot dish.

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Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

From Bon Appetit

  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pepper
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add carrots and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Remove carrots with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Using a paper towel gently remove the carrot skin and pat the carrots dry.

In a medium bowl, combine the spices and add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss everything together and add salt and pepper to the carrots. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots in batches and cook turning occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the carrots are golden brown. Salt and pepper the carrots when they are done cooking.

In a small bowl, gently fold the harissa, lemon zest, salt and pepper into the yogurt, stopping just before the yogurt turns pink. Spoon the yogurt onto a plate and top with carrots and additional lemon zest.

 

Cranberry Gin Fizz

Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of all time for the obvious reason, i.e. stuffing) can be tough for many people under the best of circumstances. Hectic travel. Black Friday fatigue. Bumping into old frenemies from high school. Trying to explain your millennial job to your great aunt. And my personal favorite, responding to the question “OMG, did you lose a ton of weight?” Yes, I have indeed shed a few pounds since my Bat Mitzvah, Mrs. Goldberger. I have also groomed my caterpillar eyebrows, thank you very much.

But this year, after, shall we say, a divisive election, things have the potential to get downright ugly. Especially if you’re leaving your East Coast Liberal haven for the heartland. To avoid igniting a live Facebook comments war at your Thanksgiving table, you’re going to need alcohol.

How does a seasonal cocktail to unite the whole family sound? We’re stronger together with a Cranberry Gin Fizz in hand. Made with a tart, fresh cranberry simple syrup with notes of rosemary, the Cranberry Gin Fizz will get you through Thanksgiving. It’s festive and colorful. And after all, Booze Trumps No Booze.

Bite your tongue, take down a few Make America Great Again lawn signs and sip your Cranberry Gin Fizz this Thanksgiving. And remember, when they go low, we reach for a seasonal fall cocktail and start drinking to dull the pain. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

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Cranberry Gin Fizz

Makes 1 cocktail

1 ounce fresh lime juice

2 ounces gin

1 ounce cranberry simple syrup

1 sprig of rosemary for garnish

a few cranberries for garnish

splash of club soda

ice

Cranberry Simple Syrup:

6 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

sprig of rosemary

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from heat and add in rosemary. Allow mixture to cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Combine lime juice, cranberry simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of club soda, a few fresh cranberries, and a rosemary sprig for garnish.

 

Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

 

I never made it apple picking this fall. I know fall isn’t technically over yet, but let’s get real – it’s not happening. And even if it did, sweater-clad families lining the East Coast have already picked the trees clean.

Instead, I’ve lived vicariously through friends and relatives … on Facebook. Scrolling through pics of newly married couples in matching vests posing in a pumpkin patch moved me. Seeing photos of my rosy cheeked nieces and nephews in Ohio chomping down on apples while their parents tried to pull off the elusive family selfie was heart warming.  But what really piqued my interest even more than the apples themselves were the fresh doughnuts my sister-in-law raved about. Fresh, hot apple and maple doughnuts that crowds lined up for. She said the whole family fell silent in the car (not an easy feat with two kids under 5) while they each devoured their doughnuts. Eating doughnuts and apple picking (secondary to the doughnuts, come on) are on my fall bucket list for next year.

In the meantime, here’s a fall baking project for utilizing those glorious fresh picked (or grocery store) apples. Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice infuse these scones with classic, delightful fall flavoring. Whole wheat flour and oats create a really nice texture and the maple icing is quite simply – on fleek.

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Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 pound cold butter, diced

3/4 cup chopped apple (I used half of a medium sized granny smith apple)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water for egg wash

Maple glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp maple extract

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an electric mixer combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add to the flour and butter.  Mix until the dough just comes together.

Place the dough on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough about 1 inch thick. Using the bottom of a glass or small bowl, cut the dough into little circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the top of the scones with your egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Let the scones cool for about 5 minutes before topping with icing.

For the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, maple extract and milk. When the scones are done. Drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. You can sprinkle the top of the scones with a few oats.