Grilled Corn Elote

So many of our meals in the summer are cooked outside on the grill. Whether it’s meat, fish, chicken or vegetables the grill is a wonderful way to get out of a hot kitchen and provide tasty dinner.  We get a bit repetitive with some of our favorite warm weather meals but every once in a while I like to change it up a bit by adding a little twist.  

chili lime butter for corn

chili lime butter for corn

Like the corn I’ll be grilling this weekend at my son’s annual camp out birthday party.  We always provide dinner on the beach and those who want to camp out join us for breakfast.  I love corn that’s grilled in its husk.  It steams it but also imparts a smokiness.  Sometimes we’ll take them out of the husk and might par-boil in a pan then finish on the grill for a more smoky-grilled-woodiness.  This time I’ll be adding a butter to the cobs while in the husk to add a Mexican touch.  Continue reading

I wanna help!

My two youngest sons are the most enthusiastic of the three about helping in the kitchen.  The other night while I was preparing dinner, my youngest came in and shouted, “I want to help!”.  Now often if I try to help him help me, he often shouts, “I can do it!” (He’s a loud boy and really wants the independence of accomplishing it on his own.)  Well, since I’d done most of the prepping/cooking already, but my husband just got home and said he’d help by shucking the corn (local white corn, so delicious!), my son joined him out on the back deck to shuck.  It was the cutest sight, especially since the wee man was in his hot-weather-comfortable (lack of) clothes. 
My husband showed him how to remove the silk from the corn by rubbing a tea towel along the ears. 

The next night my husband made crab cakes and salad for dinner.  The chorus of “I want to help!” resounded before he’d finished processing the bread for bread crumbs. So this time they helped in making the crab cakes (“Form balls then smush flat.”),
peel carrots (“Turn them around so you’re not peeling it away to nothing.”)
and grating the carrots and beets (“Careful when it gets small so you don’t cut your fingers.”).
  They loved their dinners both nights and my youngest said “It tastes even better when I help make it!”  One of my girlfriends said that’s because you put love in as an ingredient.

Getting them to help in the preparing of the meals, especially the vegetables, might be the trick if you have reluctant eaters. 

Non-Traditional New England Clambake

My kids love looking at the lobsters in the tanks whenever we’re at the supermarket.  They make me stop at the tank every time and my middle son always asks me to buy some.  Our local family-owned supermarket was having a special on lobsters ($3.99/lb) and I just had to add two of them to my PEI mussel purchase.  They’re usually double that price.   I bought a pound of the mussels (an appetizer) which were on sale too for just $2/pound! 

New England Clambake often consists of steamed lobster and clams (and maybe mussels), corn on the cob, potatoes and coleslaw.  The best I’ve had was on tiny Clam Island off Branford, CT where the lobsters were cooked in a huge aluminum garbage can over an open flame with the traditional seawater and seaweed.   Yum!

I had corn and potatoes from our CSA, but didn’t get around to making my coleslaw even though I had the ingredients.  And I make a pretty good coleslaw. I just couldn’t get it together.  It’s the end of summer and the kids are definitely acting like they’ve been around each other a bit too long.  So I heated up the micro bok choy I’d steamed the night before instead.  With Asian ingredients, hardly New England. So I might as well make my mussels ala Belgian or French style- white wine, chives, parsley, shallots, chopped tomatoes and a touch of butter.  Plus, I took the corn off the cob (we only had 3 for 4 of us) and warmed it up with butter, salt and pepper.   And I didn’t buy any clams, so I could hardly call it a “clambake” now. 


Well, whatever we call it.  It was great!  And it seemed like the perfect dinner for an end-of-summer night.  Considering the temperature dropped the following day and it feels like autumn I’m glad I seized the sale.

The kids were a little cautious with the lobsters.  They can be a bit daunting. I think next time I’ll shell it for them and serve it with butter, garlic and lemon.  My three year old gladly had the mussels but didn’t want to try the lobster right out of the shell.  At least they all ate their bok choy and corn. And my husband got to have the left over lobster for lunch. 

Popsicle Ribs

Country Pork Ribs have lots of meat, unlike spare ribs.  My husband made some with a glaze that my middle son said tasted like popsicles.  So these are now called “Popsicle Ribs”.   Salt and pepper them before putting them on the grill toward the edges (on “indirect heat”: not over the flaming coals) for 20 minutes turning occasionally.   Coat with the glaze and cook for another 5-10 minutes.  These were very thick, so you might need to adjust cooking time according to thickness.


Apricot Orange Soy Glaze (“Popsicle Sauce”) for Country Ribs

1/2 cup apricot jam

1 tsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp Tamari soy sauce

1 Tbsp orange zest

Mix together.  If you want to kick it up a notch add some hot pepper. 


Baste meat after it’s almost done and keep it on indirect heat.  That way it won’t burn because of the sugar.

We also grilled some calamari (squid) that I put in olive oil, salt and pepper before putting them on the grill.  These take just a couple of minutes.  So we put them on when everything else was done.  Squeeze of lemon is perfect on top. 


Only my middle son would taste the calamari, but before he went to bed, my eldest said he’d wished he had tasted them.  Luckily we bought 8 tubes and had only 4 that night and the other half the following night. 


We served them with a cucumber and onion salad; green beans; tomato basil goat cheese salad; corn on the cob and also some eel sushi for a side dish per request of my 8 year old.  Too much food for only five of us, but thoroughly enjoyed.

Black Bean Salad

My eldest son loves black beans.  Whenever I make tacos they must have black beans, though refried pintos will suffice in a pinch.  I buy mostly canned beans as I find my timing is such that bean cooking is not in my schedule.  I will try when things get back to more of a routine once school begins, but in the meantime I use organic canned beans.  I never thought I’d be making bread routinely before I found this recipe, so things can actually change. 

Well, summer is the season for salads and a favorite is this black bean and corn one that my husband taught me to make.  I use avocados if they’re in stock (at home) but it does fine without. 


Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

one can of black beans

2-3 cobs of corn cooked (you can use fresh uncooked corn, but I prefer cooked)

one large tomato or several smaller ones (I used a small handful of orange cherry tomatoes and a half of a small red tomato) chopped

one avocado chopped

1/4-1/2 of one Serrano, Habanero or Jalapeño pepper minced (Habanero gives nice kick and sweetness but it is very hot and you should be careful with the kids)

handful of fresh cilantro chopped

1/2 green onion (scallion) chopped

1/4 red onion diced

one lime

sea salt and ground pepper to taste


1/2 tsp cumin

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

about 1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove


Mix together the beans, corn off the cob, tomatoes, green onion and red onion then squeeze half the lime over it.  Add the hot pepper in small amounts and taste to your heat preference. The pepper should be very tiny pieces so that it doesn’t overpower the other flavors by its heat.  I sometimes divide my salads and salsas into two bowls when adding hot pepper so that the kids get less and adults get more pepper.  Add avocado last since it’s delicate.  Put in fridge while you prepare dressing or make dressing first. 

FYI: The proper ratio of oil to vinegar in dressing is 3 to 1.  I used a mini food processor but you can use a blender or immersion blender.  Put in peeled garlic clove, cumin (toast it if you have a moment), juice of other half of lime and vinegar.  Chop, blend, etc.  then add olive oil through top hole while on (slowly if using another machine) until its got a thick consistency and its taste maintains the sharpness of the vinegar.  Use as much as needed to give a nice coating to salad.  You can always keep the rest for another salad.  Serve chilled or room temperature. 


This salad can be used as a dip with chips, served with grilled chicken (a favorite for backyard parties), grilled shrimp or on its own.  I also discovered a new way just yesterday at lunch.  Served on top of a quesadilla with shredded lettuce and salsa.  Yum!  The boys were eating cheese quesadillas with Cabot’s Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese and I made one for myself with Cabot’s Hot Habanero cheddar for an extra kick. My eldest tried it (spicy quesadilla) with the bean salad on top and liked it.  Love finding new foods to make that they like. 

Summer Pasta Salad

Corn, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, peppers… it’s August!  The garden is bursting, the CSA bin is brimming, the stores and farmstands are overflowing —it’s the season ‘round here.  What to cook/pack when you have parties or picnics, camp or beachside lunches?  A pasta salad that is not only healthy, but tastes great. 

Cook corn in oven, on grill or in boiling water as you would normally.  Here we boiled it for 5 minutes then bathed in ice water to stop the cooking.  Then cut corn off cob.  Also cut the stem-end off the zucchini and boiled it with the corn.  It takes about the same amout of time, but with end cut off you can check its doneness.  

Cook corn in oven, on grill or in boiling water as you would normally.  Here we boiled it for 5 minutes then bathed in ice water to stop the cooking.  Then cut corn off cob.  Also cut the stem-end off the zucchini and boiled it with the corn.  (It takes  the same amount of time amount of time, but with end cut off you can check its doneness by just looking at how done it appears.)  Once it was done, also dunk into ice bath.  Cut in half lengthwise then into smaller pieces.

Cut up orange bell pepper and  tomatoes (without seeds).  Both of these are raw. 

I have noticed that (some of) my kids prefer certain vegetables raw and other veggies cooked.  Peppers raw/mushrooms cooked; tomatoes raw/zucchini cooked; carrots raw/broccoli cooked… it can depend on the child(ren) so remember when you’re preparing something like this to try and get it to their preference so they’re more likely to eat it!  By not overcooking you retain more nutrients and sometimes by adding fat can make it easier to convert those nutrients in the body.  Don’t avoid all fats.

Mix veggies with cooked fusilli, penne or farfalle pasta (these are all great in pasta salad) and pesto sauce.  If you don’t want to make your own, buy some fresh. 

Make sure you season with sea salt and pepper if needed.  Chill or serve just room temp.  



Most all kids love pasta.  My kids love this salad because of the pasta, crunchiness of the corn and peppers, the colors and the fresh flavors.


Cooking Together: The Whole Fish

There are times when cooking is easier for me—the nights my husband is doing it. I am lucky how often he cooks considering he does this for a living and is at work most nights, especially weekends. I will often defer the cooking to him when he’s home. But, I really enjoy cooking with him, because I often learn something and because we enjoy being together and we work well together. There’s a reason or two I married him.

Today we shopped for dinner at Stew Leonard’s and I picked out the Bronzino (Bronzini) as our main. Bronzino is a Mediterranean sea bass and the ones we purchased were sustainably farm-raised in Greece. If you haven’t noticed, I love fish and because I do and cook it often, my kids do as well. I am careful what I buy and try to pick something sustainable that’s also in my budget. Fish is expensive. It was on sale today and looked fresh. Stew’s is one of our favorite places to buy fish, because the turnover is so great, the fish is very fresh. My husband told me to look at the eyes, if they’re clear and not cloudy, it’s fresher. Ok, yes, the eyes. This fish is whole, head and all. Daunting? Maybe, but not necessarily. Off-putting? That’s up to you. Continue reading

Colors of Summer

What says summer more than grilled foods, fresh corn and local tomatoes?  My husband cooked the other night- another swelteringly hot and muggy day.  He grilled a ribeye steak that was simply prepared with salt and pepper.  He chooses to grill over hardwood charcoal not gas because he likes the added smokiness of the wood.  We used to get the charcoal from Trader Joe’s but they only sell the briquettes now, which have been treated with something that imparts an unsavory smell.  He grilled some blanched garlic scapes too to go with the meat.  My youngest eats them cut up like little green beans.

Served with that was Bread and Butter corn and tomatoes both fresh from the farm that day.  Since my 6 year old has another couple of loose teeth, we did our corn per usual then sliced the kernels off the cob.  Reheated with butter, salt and pepper. A little of all three can go a long way, and just enough to enhance the corn’s flavors by adding the other taste dimensions.  (As previously mentioned I usually only use sea salt now. We always grind fresh peppercorns because the pre-ground pepper from tins have lost its punch and flavor by the time it reaches the food). 

Red tomato, basil (fresh from our garden), and goat cheese salad is another summer staple.  Though last year it seemed as it was just my husband and I eating it, this year, we can hardly get a bite in before my oldest two are hogging it all for themselves.  My middle son was even dipping his meat and potatoes into the left over dressing after the tomatoes were all gone. 

Arrange sliced tomatoes on a plate, chop basil in small ribbons (chiffonade), top with chunks of goat cheese (we get TJ’s own brand log), sparinglydrizzle with balsamic vinegar (we use a 50 year old one), a good quality olive oil, and ground pepper to top. We usually use French Grey sea salt or Hawaiian Red sea salt, but we’re out.  We used a Himalayan pink (obviously not sea salt) and. But use whatever good quality sea, or mined salt in this case, you have. 

All Blue potatoes we received from our CSA bin.  They look like Peruvian purple potatoes, but I guess since there are thousands of different kinds of potatoes, these are from elsewhere.  Unlike the “magic” purple beans, these are purplish-blue inside and out even after being cooked.  We simply boiled them and served as is.  They were firm and had a lovely sweet and earthy taste.  The kids loved the color. I believe one way to get kids to try foods that might otherwise be seen as healthy (and undesirable) is to add the colorful veggies and not just green ones.  It’s also good for them to get the different colors because they have different nutrients.

Lastly we served green zucchini (courgettes) and yellow summer squash.  Again my middle son wouldn’t touch them last year, but this year he gobbles them up gladly. 


My sons have favorite colors.  When my eldest was 2-3 his favorite was red, then a couple of years later it was green, then turquoise, then “rainbow”, now he’s got several.  My middle son loved “lello” when he was 2-3 then blue, then green, then turquoise and now back to blue.  And my youngest’s favorite was orange and white, then green, now blue.  In such a short period of time their favorite colors have changed.  Well, so have their favorite foods.  They still love certain things but they keep adding foods to their repertoire and all of a sudden (Now kohlrabi is my middle son’s favorite food.  My youngest asked for salmon or “snapping” for dinner two nights ago.  My eldest still loves spaghetti, but sushi and tacos have taken top spot.)  I believe if you understand that kids change their favorites, their tastes, their interests as they grow you will find that given the opportunity they may actually like that food they had no interest in eating previously.  Give them a chance to try it, eventually they may like it… or even love it!

“Here try it” , “ok” — before he asked for more and more…


We went to my friend Amanda’s house to celebrate summer and enjoy food together.  I’d suggested a food and dessert gathering since I write a food blog and she writes a dessert blog.  Unfortunately the day of the potluck I was feeling rather crappy due to a migraine and I didn’t get around to making a tapenade and tomato and basil salad, but luckily we had plenty of food.  Two other families joined us, my migraine medication eventually worked, and it turned out to be a perfect evening.  It looked like the setting in a magazine.  They’d even set up an inflatable water slide for the kids.  And it was really pretty smooth sailing with all 10 of them (ages 3 to 13) for 6 hours!


Our gracious and talented host made more than she should have— watermelon, feta and mint salad, a delicious, soft, yet chewy sourdough no-knead bread with huge sea salt crystals on top, and divine profiteroles for dessert that she blogged about here.  Our friend Holly made prosciutto, melon and mint skewers and potato and green bean salad.  Our other friend Kymm made grilled asparagus, asparagus with prosciutto and a pasta with beans, spinach, tomatoes and garlic.  All yummy.  Don’t remember who provided the corn- oven roasted,  (steamed) in their husks, then shucked and finished on the grill but I do remember how delicious it was and how much the children loved it!

My husband prepared Moroccan style lamb kebabs the day before and I made a cocktail for the grownups!  Yes, this is a blog about kids food but, who makes the food?  Parents.  Who needs a cocktail every now and then? Parents.  So, this is the summer drink I adapted from a recipe I saw in Food Arts by Jeff Hollinger of Absinthe in San Francisco.  I made a “simple” syrup of ginger, pink peppercorns, lime zest, sugar and water. I let it sit for at least 8 hours. Then I poured about 2 oz of syrup over ice (straining the big chunks), splash of cranberry-raspberry juice, 2-3 oz of citrus vodka, and filled rest with San Pellegrino Limonata.  We dubbed it the Blogger’s Lemonade. It was zesty, spicy, lemony but subtle. A mint leaf or two is great added as well, which a few of us did too! 

The lamb was a leg cut into approximately 2 inch pieces.  He made a paste that he covered the pieces with for at least 24 hours before grilling.  The paste:  toasted whole cumin then ground, ground coriander seed, ground allspice, and ground cinnamon.  Mixed them together with chopped shallots, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, fresh grated ginger, olive oil.   Soak skewers in water so they don’t burn badly when grilling.  He made about 18 skewers with 6 pieces each on them.  Served with yogurt sauce.  Yogurt, garlic, cilantro, mint, lemon juice.  (If you want recipes with actual measurements, please contact me and we’ll figure it out for you!)

When it was time to eat there was much chatter about hotdogs.  Some of the kids were expecting them and some of the parents were considering serving them.  I said that my kids would eat the lamb and we’d been at a birthday party earlier where they had hotdogs, so I’d reather we didn’t have any. Often when things like hotdogs are given as a choice, kids tend to choose them. I got into a discussion with my friend H about a restaurant she loves to take her kids to because there is no children’s menu, no substitutions and the kids actually eat what they’re given.  I said, take that philosophy home with you.    

Well, I must have made enough noise (yea, I tend to do that) and no hotdogs were cooked.  The kids had what we had.  And they sat on a couple of large quilts in the grass, eating away happily while the parents sat under the new pergola, eating, drinking wine, talking, and laughing— and sometimes just glancing over at 10 kids enjoying a summer night.  They had fun with it too—the skewers were sometimes used as spears for the lamb and other foods.  And the kids really ate it.

Later there were s’mores with homemade marshmallows (I have a lot to live up to next time I host) and the profiteroles.  It was late by the time we all left— happy, full and ready to do it again. 

Thanks to Amanda and Jonathan for the photos- damn migraine! Left my camera at home!

She Serves Seared Sea Scallops

Dry Sea Scallops (Day Boat Scallops) are large, sweet flavorful scallops that have no water (or other liquids) injected into them.  You can tell when you cook them because they won’t release any water.  My family loves the sweetness of the scallops when they’re seared, which also retains the soft juiciness.  

Blanch or steam your vegetables first.  Prepare rice, grains or potatoes.   When they’re done or 5 minutes away from finished you can cook the scallops.


Heat pan then add one Tbsp of grapeseed oil (doesn’t impart contradicting flavors and has a high burning point -won’t smoke and turn brown at higher temps) until hot.  Put the scallops (can season with salt and pepper if you wish but be careful if using salty sauce) in the pan starting with largest ones first (lay out on plate first to see the sizes).  Flip over once nice and brown (like above).  Once second side is browned and they look whiter, less translucent, they should be ready to serve.   It only takes a few minutes.  You can always cut into one to check for doneness if you’re unsure.  You don’t want to overcook as they’ll get tough and rubbery.  

We served ours with a Ponzu (citrus soy) sauce my husband made (but you can find a decent bottled one from Trader Joe’s).  Usually made with yuzu juice, which is hard to find, you can substitute oj, lemon and lime juices with the tamari soy sauce, bonito flakes and rice wine vinegar.  Careful though as a little goes a long way!  If you’d like the measurements just ask me.

We also served rice, avocado salsa, spinach, cucumber salad and corn— in a method many friends have adopted.  It’s kind of like lazy lobster but with corn.  Boil the corn until done then shock in cold water.  Cut the corn kernels off the cob (just don’t go too far into the cob center or you’ll get the harder parts that hold the kernels onto the cob) and put in a pan with a pat or two of butter, sea salt and pepper.   Everyone loves the taste and kids who are loosing their front teeth can still eat one of their favorite vegetables!

If there are any recipes or methods you’d like to know, just ask me!

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