Roasted Beets with Feta

It’s beet season! I think beets are one of those vegetables that can often get a bad rap. They look kind of funny when you pull them out of the ground…they stain everything…and they do have an earthy taste. Then again, I grew up eating beets (albeit out of a can, but I did eat them) so I guess it’s one of those vegetables where you love ’em, or you don’t.

The best way to get your beets ready to eat is to roast them. Because of the sugar, they carmelize really nicely and sweeten right up. All you need to do to roast them is trim off the greens, wrap each beet with aluminum foil, and roast for about an hour or two or until they soften (see recipe below). Let them cool and use your hands to gently peel off the skin under running cold water (it seriously rubs right off). You may or may not want to wear gloves during the peeling process because there is plenty of magenta-colored juice under that skin!

This recipe was given to me by my husband’s step mom, who made this with some beets they had also received from their Fresh Fork basket. My father-in-law is not a fan of beets, but really liked this dish. I’m not sure if it made him a believer (beet-leiver? Ha!) of sorts, but she was was really pleased with the result and forwarded it to me. And now, I share the love with you.

Roasted Beets with Feta

from Allrecipes.com

  • 4 beets, trimmed of greens
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, and place onto a baking sheet or into a muffin pan (to keep them from rolling around). Bake the beets in the preheated oven until easily pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. While the beets are in the oven, make your vinaigrette: whisk together the shallot, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar in a bowl until it blends. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Periodically whisk together to keep the dressing emulsified.
  3. Once the beets are done, remove them from the oven and let cool. Discard the foil and peel the beets under cold running water, and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Again, you may want to wear gloves or you risk staining your hands!
  4. Place the sliced beets onto a serving dish or into a bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the beets, and sprinkle with feta cheese.

imageI have to admit, my picture is a bit terrible…but you get the idea.

This is a great side dish to share with others, or just to keep all for yourself (if you like beets, like I do). The leftovers lasted maybe a day or two, tops.

Maybe my recipe will make a beet-liever out of you. Maybe you’ll make it and still hate beets! But I figure it’s at least worth a shot, especially if you are looking for a vegetable that is a bit more in season for this time of year.

Enjoy!

Jalapeño Coleslaw

Summer is all about cookouts, and with it being late summer, these gatherings are still in full force. I’m not complaining one bit – the next few weekends for us are filled with plenty of get-togethers with friends and family. Obviously, it’s good to have several ‘entertaining’ dishes up your sleeve for these occasions.

My husband is a big fan of coleslaw. With me, I could take it or leave it – at least, the stuff that you see pre-made at the deli and/or sold in bulk. I had never tried my hand at homemade coleslaw up until a week or two ago. Now that I have, it might be safe to say that I’ve turned a corner of sorts.

Don’t let the name fool you – this coleslaw does have a jalapeno pepper in it, but it isn’t overpowering at all. It gives just a bit of a bite.

Jalapeño Coleslaw

adapted from Serious Eats

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped – I used the stuff that they sell in the tube. Love it.
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the Slaw:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots; peeled and grated
  • 1 large jalapeno – stemmed, seeded and diced (unless you want it super hot)
  1. Make the dressing: whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside (or in the refrigerator).
  2. Make the slaw: Using a mandolin, shred the cabbage; if you don’t have one, then finely chop it by hand.
  3. Combine the cabbage, carrot and jalapeno in a large bowl. If serving right away, pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Add salt, pepper and/or sugar and season to taste. If serving later, refrigerate the slaw until ready to serve (or transport in a cooler). Mix everything together when it’s time to eat.
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I know, I know. Functionality over plating…

 

I really enjoyed this dish. We brought it over to a friend’s house for a cookout where they were serving pulled pork sandwiches. It paired really well together. The cumin, lime juice and pepper give this coleslaw a Southwestern flair to it; you could easily serve this with chicken or with fish tacos, too. It tastes wonderfully fresh and beats the store-bought slaw, hands down. Then again, homemade dishes beat store-bought ones anyways, right?

They say Labor Day is the end of summer, but don’t let it – keep on enjoying this great weather!

Green Beans with Honey-Mustard Glaze

This past week, we were able to harvest the first green beans (ok, bush beans) from our garden. We picked almost an entire gallon Ziplock-full…with several more that should be ready any day now. Between our garden and CSA, we’ve had a lot of green beans to eat – needless to say I’ve been looking for new ways to make them, other than casseroles and simply steamed/boiled (I don’t know about you, but I get tired of steamed vegetables really, really quickly).

I came across this recipe during an internet search and was immediately drawn to it by its use of mustard seeds. I had a small bag of them in my pantry from buying them for a recipe ages ago – and had just enough for this recipe. Lo and behold – I also had just enough honey for this recipe, too. All signs were pointing to YES!

Green Beans with Honey-Mustard Glaze

from Real Simple

  • 2 lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  1. Bring a large saucepan or medium-sized pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the green beans and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Dry the pot and return it to the stove; turn on heat to low. Toast the mustard seeds until they begin to pop (about 1 minute). Consistently stir to prevent scorching.
  4. Add the honey and vinegar and cook until the sauce comes to a boil and becomes syrupy. Drizzle over the green beans; toss and serve.

 

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This recipe was fast! We were able to tag-team dinner; Mike made burgers and I made the green beans in about 15-20 minutes flat. It was absolutely perfect for a busy Monday, and it gave us some much-needed variety with all the green beans that we’ve been eating (not that I’m complaining – fresh green beans while in season are wonderful!)

There is a really nice balance between the honey, rice vinegar, and mustard. It’s not too savory, not too vinegary. I am wondering, however, how this would work with apple cider vinegar instead of the rice vinegar.

If you’re stuck in a rut with your green beans, and have a nice amount of mustard seeds in your cabinet to use up – definitely go ahead and try this recipe. You’ll enjoy it!

 

Southwestern Quinoa Pilaf

I don’t know about you, but I am definitely a fan of quinoa. It’s just a great canvas for making great dishes – sort of like rice, but counts as a “superfood” and is just a little better for you. I hadn’t made quinoa in a while, and had about a cup left in a container in the pantry. Thankfully, I spotted this recipe over at Annie’s Eats several weeks ago, and it’s one of those recipes that you just can’t seem to get out of your head after you read about it.

It was a great side dish to accompany some chicken habanero patties that I had stashed away in the deep freeze. Dinner was delicious and filling, and there was enough quinoa leftover for lunch the next day.

Southwestern Quinoa Pilaf

adapted from Annie’s Eats 

  • 1cup quinoa, rinsed (you have to do this or else your quinoa will be bitter!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1¾ cups water
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco or cojita cheese
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the quinoa and toast it stirring frequently, until it starts to sizzle a bit. Remove from heat & transfer the quinoa to a bowl.
  2. Put the pan back onto the burner and increase heat to medium.  Melt the butter and olive oil together.  Add the diced onion, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Cook until the onion begins to soften – stir occasionally.
  3. Once the onions are nice soft, turn the heat up to medium-high.  Add the quinoa back to the pan and add the water, bringing the mixture to a simmer.  Cover and reduce the heat to low, creating a simmer. Cook for 18-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Mix in the corn and remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 more minutes.  Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Add the cheese, scallions and lime juice; toss to combine.

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I could not find queso fresco at the store – they were out – so I had to substitute in cojita cheese. The saltiness of the cheese really complimented the dish, so it is a nice replacement if you can’t find the fresco. Corn was not in the original recipe either, but I think it really worked well in the pilaf. If you want to spice it up even more, add some crushed red pepper in with the spices. You won’t be disappointed 😉

I have a feeling I’ll be making this a few times this coming spring/summer, once the grill is officially fired up for the season. Or, I may make it on a random Saturday; it could easily become a meal on its own. It’s quick, easy, and very flavorful!

Colcannon

I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready for all things green, and it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day anymore. I’ve bookmarked so many festive, spring-y recipes in the past three days alone that I may have to spend extra time in my kitchen once our water troubles are over, just so I can get into the spirit. I’m quite tired of the winter blues.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to bake our corned beef brisket rather than boil with vegetables. In previous years, we always end up with a ton of leftover cabbage, and not a lot of the really flavorful ‘stuff’.  Plus, since we’re grown-ups and had to work, neither of us could stay home and drink cook all day. Ah, those were the days…

…anyway, this was the recipe that I made to go along with our corned beef. We needed something tasty, yet easy to whip up – you all know how Mondays are! What’s even better is that I didn’t have to buy any cabbage – I had a half-head of it in my freezer, leftover from our CSA. It was the perfect amount needed to whip up this recipe for colcannon.

Colcannon

adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1-2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. In a pot, bring the potatoes to a boil. Continue until the potatoes are fork tender (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Around ten minutes into the potato boil, heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Add the cabbage and periodically toss as it cooks down. Add some salt & pepper as you go. Add the bacon bits and toss to combine. At this point, make sure to check the potatoes – if they are nowhere near done, turn off the cabbage so that it does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return them back to the pot. Add the milk, butter and a dash of salt and pepper; mash away!
  5. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mix well.
Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

I never really thought about putting bacon into colcannon until I found the original recipe for this post. It really adds a little something extra to the dish (and probably to my waistline, too). Obviously, you are more than welcome to omit the bacon if you so choose. I used bacon bits because that’s what I had in my refrigerator, and I didn’t really feel it was necessary to really grease up the skillet any more than I needed to (especially with all the plumbing issues we’ve been having).

This dish is delicious, easy on the wallet, and definitely not the worst thing you could consume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Polenta with Swiss Chard

During our trip to NC, we were having a discussion with my brother-in-law about foods that a) we like to cook, and b) we like our significant others to cook. He mentioned how his fiance cooks this great dish of salmon with polenta.

For those of you who don’t know, polenta is “coarsely or finely ground yellow or white cornmeal boiled with water or stock into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled” (thank you, Wikipedia). It’s a lot more delicious than it actually sounds. I’ve had it before at a local restaurant or two, but up until now had never tried cooking it before.

Tammy over at Agrigirl commented on my Week 1 post of this summer’s CSA about how well polenta went with swiss chard; I was looking for recommendations for how to use chard in my kitchen as I was a bit stumped. With both of these people giving their input on polenta, I simply had to try it out.

Polenta with Swiss Chard – adapted from Agrigirl

  • 1 tube polenta, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard, washed & trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2  tbsp olive oil
  1. In a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Then, add the swiss chard. (You do this step first, as the chard will take longer to cook than the polenta.
  2. In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of  the olive oil.  Add the polenta and sauté. Remove polenta from pan when each side has a nice golden brown to it.
  3. On a plate, top the polenta with the chard. Serve.
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Served with chicken on the side!

I think what I liked best about this dish is that the polenta & chard pair really, really well together. Swiss chard, being the leafy green that it is, is a tad bitter. The polenta cuts the bitterness and makes the chard so much more palatable. As I said before, the dish is also very filling and can be used as either main or side dish. It was also a very quick and easy dish to make; I had community band in the evening and was able to make this with plenty of time to walk out the door, rather than rush.

Thank you, Clay & Tammy, for the recommendation of polenta and how to eat it! I’m looking forward to using it more in my cooking.

Cheesy Broccoli Rice

We’re members of the local community garden and every Wednesday night, we have a potluck & garden work night. This week, Mike suggested that we make cheesy broccoli rice casserole. It sounded like a great idea, since I knew it would feed a lot of people, and who would think to make that on a warm night in June? Plus, it’s once of Mike’s favorites.

Mike has loved “broccoli cheesy rice casserole” for as long as I can remember. It has to be made with Velveeta, or some sort of plain old American/Cheddar cheese, but not nacho cheese – because it’s sheer and utter disappointment. I suppose it’s just one of those comfort foods he always grew up on. But here’s a confession for you: we’ve been married for almost 5 years, and I believe this is the first time I’ve made this dish. Sad, right? I know damn well that he loves it, but I guess I just never got around to making it. Wife of the half-decade right here!

When I went to the store to get ingredients, I started to panic, as I could not seem to find that sinful block of processed cheese food – the main ingredient in the dish! Thank God for iPhones, as before you knew it, I had a substitute for Velveeta that tasted better, and was probably a bit more healthier. And I’m glad for that because the block of processed cheese food kinda grosses me out.

This is a great dish that is easily multiplied for potlucks, or kept simple for a weeknight side dish. You could even eat this as a meal in itself if you really wanted to. And the best part? No processed, rubbery cheese food 🙂

Cheesy Broccoli Rice – adapted from Betty Crocker and MOMables

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (you want about 1 cup total)
  • 1 8oz bag of cheddar blend shredded cheese
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of *whatever* soup
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups broccoli florets – fresh or frozen
  • bread crumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Cook rice in water according to package directions (or, use a rice cooker).
  2. While the rice is cooking, melt the better into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions are tender, but still have a bit of a crunch to them.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium/medium-low and add the soup, milk, pepper, and cheese. Simmer, stirring often, until the cheese is melted and the mixture thickens.
  4. Add broccoli and rice. Mix well and spoon into a 9×13 baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the casserole.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until the edges turn light brown and the casserole is nice and bubbly.
Perfect leftovers for a special someone tomorrow :)

Perfect leftovers for a special someone tomorrow 🙂

The casserole was a big hit at our potluck. I doubled the recipe and the above was all that was left – the perfect amount for someone’s lunch. My toughest critic said that he missed the ‘taste’ of the Velveeta, but that it still tasted pretty good. I’ll take that as a win. Not only because I was able to create a Velveeta substitute, but because I finally made one of my husband’s favorite dishes that has gotten overlooked over the years – recipe SAVED!

Baked Rice with Butternut Squash

I’ll confess: baking with squashes other than spaghetti squash intimidate me. I don’t know why; maybe there’s this subconscious worry that anything I make using it will make it taste, well…squashy. Kind of like the butternut squash soup I made awhile back. Ick.

I have some squashes leftover from my CSA that are juuuuust at the end of their shelf life, and need to be cooked up quickly, before they start to go to waste. This was one recipe that I found that utilized a butternut squash that I had, and I really enjoyed the end rest. It’s great for a chilly, snowy evening.

The rice that the recipe calls for is actually the risotto (Arborio) rice that many of you know and love. However, any type of short-grain rice will work, too.

Baked Rice with Butternut Squash – adapted from myrecipes.com

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock works okay too)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Place the squash (whole) on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until tender. Let cool. Meanwhile turn the oven up to 400*.
  2. Peel the squash, & cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the goop, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, water, and sage to a simmer (do not let it boil). Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. To the skillet, add the onion; sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for about two minutes (be careful not to let it brown too much. Add rice& toast for about 1 minute. Stir in the squash, broth mixture, wine, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the rice mixture. Bake for 30 minutes in the oven (already preheated at 400).
  6. Remove from oven & stir mixture gently. Sprinkle with cheese; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

 

Delicious. Savory. Not squashy.

Delicious. Savory. Not squashy.

This would also be a great dish to bring to a fall/winter potluck or family dinner. I served this with baked chicken; the leftovers reheated very well also.

One of the things that most impressed me with this recipe how you baked the squash before cutting it up. Before, I’d grab the sharpest knife in my house, say a prayer, and start hacking away at the gourd. Baking it will soften it up so that the knife will go through easily, and you’re less likely to cut off the tip of your thumb! 😉 If you ever are cooking with an entire squash again, try this technique!

I’m very pleased with how this turned out, and am glad that I finally found a successful recipe for butternut squash. It’s no longer a stranger lurking in my pantry, and I’m very confident that I can make other delicious dishes with it now.

Cheesy Eggplant Casserole

The only eggplant dish that most people (myself included) learn/try to make is eggplant parmesan. It’s not fast, but it’s easy and a crowd-pleaser. If you can get past the name and the texture – eggplants have little seeds – you can find that it’s actually a pretty tasty vegetable, especially smothered in tomato sauce and cheese.

We got a few eggplant in our CSA this past week and I wanted to cook them up, rather than try to freeze them – AND, I wanted to make something other than eggplant parmesan. Furthermore, with the change in the weather, I was craving something oven-baked, that would pair well with the breaded chicken I was making as the main dish.

I found this recipe on an old-favorite of mine, Allrecipes.com*. I tell ya, if you’ve never tried this website before, do so! It’s a great hub of tried & true recipes (and some terrible ones, to be honest) that people all over the world post, cook, and rate. It’s a great go-to when you have a vegetable and/or ingredients and you’re just not sure how to pair them together. That being said…here’s a great side dish & casserole that helps you use that eggplant you receive in your CSA, when eggplant parm just won’t do!

Cheesy Eggplant Casserole – adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 eggplant (or several smaller ones), peeled and diced
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (not pictured, oops! I used a new cheddar blend from Sargento*)
  • 1 cup dry bread stuffing mix
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • dried Italian seasoning, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes  (not pictured, read review below!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  2. Place eggplant in a medium microwave-safe dish. Cook for 3 minutes, stir, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a square baking dish.
  3. Mix in tomatoes, stuffing, garlic, onion, egg, and 1/2 cup cheese. Season with Italian herbs, salt & pepper.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven. Top with remaining cheese, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

You will notice right away that there isn’t any tomatoes in my casserole. This was an addition that should have happened, but realized after the fact. While the original recipe does leave this out, the original recipe also turns out decently dry; I read several reviews on the website that all stated that this addition was a good idea.

Still…the end result of this dish, tomatoes or not, is delicious! All the flavors blend really well together and it was a nice compliment to the breaded chicken I had baked.  Don’t be afraid to add too much spices or garlic, as they really make the dish pop. The cheddar blend I used was also really great. Furthermore – the casserole was filling! Always a plus 🙂

If you’re weary about making eggplant, or are in need of a new idea for it…try this recipe! You won’t be disappointed.

Cheesy eggplant casserole, and breaded chicken. Great dinner on a rainy night!

* NOTE: I was not asked nor paid to talk about Allrecipes.com, nor mention the Sargento brand. These opinions are solely my own and for the enjoyment of my readers.

Asian Rice Salad

Last night we decided to finally grill the chicken kabobs that we had marinating in our refrigerator. One of my most favorite meals during the summertime is shish kabobs of some sort; I make them almost weekly. I knew I wanted to serve rice with them, but wanted something different than just plain boring white rice. Mike suggested, “What about a rice salad?” I had no idea what he meant, but it sounded pretty delicious, so over to the computer I went. In about 2 minutes, I found something that could work. Thanks, Internet 😉

Asian Rice Salad – adapted from About.com (written by Jolinda Hackett)

  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or peanut oil if you have it on hand, which I did not)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame-chili oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley (I used dried)
  • any other vegetables that work with Asian cuisine
  1. In a small bowl, combine oils, vinegar, salt & pepper, and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the rice in a larger bowl. Toss gently to coat, then set aside.
  2. Steam the carrot & peas for one minute. Drain & stir into rice.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Let cool.

Enjoying a summery Sunday evening

This recipe was originally written to be served cold. However, for the sake of time in our house (we were pretty hungry!), I served it warm. The vinaigrette that you mix in with the rice adds a really nice, subtle flavor to the rice, without overpowering whatever you are serving the salad with. You can even add a touch of soy sauce if you wish. The original recipe also calls for a few more vegetables. I omitted those simply because we were making shish kabob and grilling vegetables anyways.

When making this again, I would add sweet peppers, maybe some bok choy, or bean sprouts. The possibilities are endless! With more vegetables and some protein, this could also be a really easy, filling main dish. We do have a significant amount of leftovers, so this will most likely get made into fried rice for lunches.

The salad paired perfectly with our kabobs, and was thoroughly enjoyed as we dined in our backyard. I love summer 🙂