Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Smell Summertime In My Backyard

Today's temps hit the 50s, and the sun stayed high in the sky and shone brightly. Even the winds were calm, making it an absolutely picture perfect day. It was like summertime in the middle of January as kids shed their coats and ran the streets in just T-shirts. I bet if I would have looked hard enough, I could have even found some brave souls in shorts.

I didn't take it that far. I ran my errands in a long sleeved T-shirt, but jeans were a better choice for me (and everyone) with my pasty, winter, white legs. I couldn't, however, resist the lure of the grill. Beautiful, clear January days like this don't happen that often on the prairie. It was time to light the charcoal.

Strip steaks only need a rub with our favorite steak seasoning before being placed over the coals. Potatoes are a standard side, but that seemed to cling to the heaviness of winter. This unseasonably warm day required that I pull out a variation of a lighter side dish that is very popular with us during the summer months. Garden fresh herbs and vegetables always make a sauteed veggie side dish that is full of flavor. However, since gardening is still months away, canned tomatoes make an appearance but don't disappoint one bit in a Zucchini and Tomato Toss.

Of course, I couldn't serve a meal here in the heartland without the required starch, and since potatoes were dropped, My Favorite Cheesy Garlic Bread is mandatory. It pairs perfectly with the steaks and vegetables to round out a hearty meal, but the topping could easily be spread on baguette slices and toasted as an appetizer or served with a green salad for an incredible lunch.

The coals of the grill are ready, and my backyard smells like summertime. I am ready for a first-rate summer dinner in January to land On My Plate.

Zucchini and Tomato Toss

1 large fresh zucchini, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
seasoning salt
fresh ground pepper
1 can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
fresh basil
fresh oregano
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a saute pan.
Saute the onion until tender, add garlic.
Add the sliced zucchini and cook until tender-crisp.
Season to taste with seasoning salt and fresh ground pepper.
Add the tomatoes and herbs; simmer a few minutes for the flavors to meld.
Remove from heat and serve with Parmesan cheese on top. (Serves 4)

My Favorite Cheesy Garlic Bread

1 loaf French bread, thickly sliced or halved lengthwise
olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Slice or halve the bread and brush one side of slices, or cut side of halves, with olive oil.
Place the bread under the broiler to toast. Watch closely and remove before too browned.
Mix the garlic, mayonnaise, and Parmesan together.
Spread on toasted bread.
Return bread to under the broiler until the topping is bubbly and slightly browned.
Garnish with parsley. (Serves 8)


  1. It's 7:15 a.m. and those vegetables and cheesy garlic bread are making me salivate! Great pics for great food!

  2. The cheesy garlic bread was awesome!


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